PN Member Richard Howitt Shares His View on Elections in Pakistan

Richard Howitt
May 13, 2013

Remarks by Richard Howitt MEP, Chair of the European Parliament Election Observation Delegation to Pakistan 2013, at the presentation of the EUEOM Preliminary Statement, Islamabad, 13 May 2013.


May I start by congratulating the Chief Observer, Michael and your team, thanking my European Parliament colleagues Phil Bennion and Joaquim Zeller who with myself comprised the European Parliament delegation and say how proud we have been to act as observers at these Pakistan elections.

Most of all, we congratulate, thank and express our pride to the Pakistani people, for enabling us to take part in this important moment in your country's history.

I express our serious concern at the impact of the terrible violence on the campaign and on election day.  I join in sending condolences to the friends, families and colleagues of all affected.

But we ask the international community as well as the people of Pakistan to recognise that the violence must not overshadow the friendly and enthusiastic atmosphere witnessed in many places across the country, one which appeared to us for the most part to be free from fear or intimidation. 

The huge turnout in defiance of the threats against the process was an extraordinary vote of confidence in democracy itself. And a vote against violence.

The European Parliament endorses the findings of procedural shortcomings in the EUEOM preliminary statement.

The election process was indeed to some extent marred but, at this point, I sincerely hope that the outcome will not have not been distorted.

Indeed the decision of threatened political parties to continue to contest the election, the clear improvements in relation to the electoral roll, the very impressive e-parchee to 40 million mobile 'phone users and the ordering of a re-poll in parts of Karachi, all suggest that Pakistan's democratic system can demonstrate a capacity to address its own shortcomings.

I personally witnessed at a polling station a dispute over alleged ballot stuffing, which appeared to be satisfactorily resolved with the support of all the party agents present.  Just one example but one which represents an example to us all.

Chief Observer, ladies and gentlemen.

The European Parliament observes that this election in Pakistan was indeed a step forward, and one from which we call on all those elected to sustain their commitment to reforms in the interests of good government for the people and good governance for the state.

We are deeply appreciative that the European Union has been able to assist this country on its path to democratic consolidation but we know, of course, that the primary responsibility for the improvements, and the credit for them, rests fully with the people of Pakistan themselves.



Originally published on Richard Howitt's Facebook page.

Photo by olaf.kellerhoff.


PN Member Richard Howitt is a Labour Member of the European Parliament for the East of England. He is Vice Chair of the Human Rights Sub Committee, a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy and is the Labour European Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs.

Read stories from: