The primary task of the caretaker government was the holding of free, fair and transparent elections, said outgoing Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (ret) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, and he declared that the task had successfully been accomplished. He made these remarks while talking to Federal Information Minister, Arif Nizami in Balochistan House.
Under the Constitution of Pakistan, a Caretaker government was created after the end of Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) term in March. It was mandated to hold free, fair and impartial general election with the help of an independent election commission within 60 days. The general elections of one National Assembly and four provincial assemblies were held on May 11, 2013. New governments in the capital and the provinces were in place by the first week of June. Previous elections had been marred by violence, fraud, and low turnout in some areas. Pakistan’s democratically-elected leadership has been frequently upended by military intervention and no previous elected government had transferred power to another elected government.
Truth Tracker spoke to the major parties and reviewed the record of the election to determine whether it was “successful.”
The Election Commission of Pakistan organized the general election of the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces. Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) won in the National Assembly and Punjab Provincial Assemblies elections and emerged as the largest party. It is one of major partners of the coalition government in the Balochistan province.
In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) managed to form a government while in Sindh province, PPP succeeded in regaining power.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised the country for holding successful national and provincial elections, for which millions of voters turned out at the polls, and congratulated the government and people of Pakistan for this major democratic step.
Free and Fair Elections Network (FAFEN) analyzed reports of 40,000 observers across the country. Their initial analysis pointed out numerous complaints regarding the conduct of elections, including 288 incidents of violence. Their May 22 report said, “Most importantly, the procedures for counting ballots and votes in polling stations remains chaotic and non-transparent.”
There were problems with the voting procedures as well, FAFEN reported. Observers reported a total of 15 incidents in which women were barred from voting under coordinated voter suppression by candidates and community leaders. They also cited weak management at polling stations, “including interference in voting by polling officials and unauthorized people in polling booths and stations.”
However, FAFEN’s chief executive officer Muddassir Rizvi told Voice of America, “In general, we are not questioning the legitimacy of the process in most parts of Pakistan except for certain constituencies in Karachi, and perhaps some constituencies in Baluchistan.”
Talking to Truth Tracker, Secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan Ishtiaq Ahmed said the general elections of 2013 saw the highest-ever voter turnout, 58 percent, and that the turnout was especially high in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The election was mainly peaceful, he said, except for two minor incidents in Punjab.
PTI political and strategic committee member S.A. Hameed said that the Election Commission of Pakistan failed to conduct free and fair elections, which damaged the county’s image abroad. Interviewed by telephone from Lahore, he said the commission had lost its credibility because of its failure to conduct free and fair elections and that these general elections were the most controversial in the history of Pakistan.
PTI leadership ultimately accepted the results of the vote, however.
When contacted, a spokesman of Awami National Party said that his party accepted the results of the general elections of the country, despite concerns about pre-poll rigging. He claimed that the party was attacked 31 times during its campaign in which scores of party activists were martyred and wounded.
Senator of PPP Moula Bakhsh Chandio, in a television interview, said that his party had accepted the elections results in order to strengthen the democratic system in Pakistan.
The statement of the outgoing caretaker prime minister is mostly true because all the political parities have accepted election results, allowing the peaceful transition of one civilian government to another civilian government.
Although there were irregularities which prevented the elections from being flawless, findings by independent local and international observers generally supported the government viewpoint that fair elections were held successfully.