Home UK & Europe Europe Why did Pakistan refuse EU grant for support of electoral process?

Why did Pakistan refuse EU grant for support of electoral process?

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Pakistan has refused a European (EU) grant of €15 million proposed for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and election monitoring bodies, fearing that it could compromise its sovereignty and national security.

Pakistan expressed reservations as a signing of such an agreement could have serious implications on the independence and supremacy of the parliament. Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes that, any such deal with foreign entities must only be signed if the deal is in line with the Constitution of Pakistan and doesn’t compromise Pakistan’s independence.

The deal was part of a package to bring in electoral reforms meant for the training & development of the officials at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), but it was allowed to lapse quietly.  

Pakistan goes into the next elections with the same old compromised system which is destined to result in more controversies in future.

The European Union (EU) has always been interested in taking initiatives to collaborate with Pakistani authorities to assist in free, fair and transparent elections in Pakistan.

The grant in question was offered to Pakistan in 2016 to help in conducting free and fair elections, but it was allowed to lapse purposely sighting different reasons by different government departments.

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Pakistan held the 4th Session of Pakistan-EU Political Dialogue in Islamabad where the foreign secretory led the meeting.  The EU side was headed by Jean-Christophe Belliard, the Deputy Secretary General, European External Action Service. The two sides carried out an in-depth review of how to upgrade the existing level of cooperation. 

Such practices may suit the designs of those powerful groups, which have vested interests and are beneficiaries of such arrangements.

Both parties had undergone three agreements over the provision of a grant; promotion of human rights in Pakistan, improving reintegration of returnees in Pakistan and support to the electoral processes in Pakistan. Though, the grant with clauses about controversial human rights conditions in Pakistan was accepted, the crucial grant which could improve the electoral process in Pakistan was denied. What persuaded the government to do so?

Despite the ongoing dialogues, a government could not accept the draft from the EU and failed to reach an agreement, which could potentially ensure transparent polls.

National Assembly Secretariat expressed its concern, which could create complexities and hurdles, if any such contract is signed with the EU. Moreover, according to (NAS) such reforms should be allowed through parliamentary institutions.

The EU side was headed by Jean-Christophe Belliard, the Deputy Secretary General, European External Action Service. The two sides carried out an in-depth review of how to upgrade the existing level of cooperation. 

Foreign office and National Assembly Secretariat objected to securing such a grant sighting different reasons.

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Although, both Pakistan and the EU have collaborated on the issues in last decade or so, Pakistan has been marred with controversies in general elections since the 1960’s. Pakistan has an irregular and unpredictable history when it comes to general elections.

Opposition parties have openly condemned the compromised elections using the out dated and highly questionable practices in elections. Such practices may suit the designs of those powerful groups, which have vested interests and are beneficiaries of such arrangements.

Even, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) believes that it has adequate funding to conduct free and fair elections and does not need any external funding. According to the ECP, such a grant can have no impact on capabilities and effectiveness of the institution.

Despite the ongoing dialogues, a government could not accept the draft from the EU and failed to reach an agreement, which could potentially ensure transparent polls.

ECP believes that foreign countries and institutions could undermine the electoral process and sovereignty of the country.

It looks more like a case, where, the government apparently does not want the improvement in the electoral policies because it could be a major tool in removing the irregularities in operational capabilities of the election commission.

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Considerable time of the nation was wasted in campaigns against the election rigging in post 2013 general elections. Media outlets and the public debated extensively on the issue. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) registered a long 126-day protest to force the government into adopting future measures, which could improve transparency in the elections. With no plan or major overhaul conducted, Pakistan goes into the next elections with the same old compromised system which is destined to result in more controversies in future.


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1 COMMENT

  1. Is Pakistan Parliament sovereign? This parliment is nest of thieves, plunderers and criminals who should be in jail to start with.

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