Pakistan: Statement by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union on the general elections

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The European Union takes note of the completion of the polling in the general elections, which took place on 8 February in Pakistan, following several months of postponement and uncertainty, and in a context of a tense security environment. The participation by the Pakistani people to exercise their right to vote, despite systemic barriers still faced by women and persons belonging to minorities, demonstrates their commitment to democracy and the rule of law. The EU welcomes the increased number of women registered to vote compared to the last elections. We regret the lack of a level playing field due to the inability of some political actors to contest the elections, restrictions to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression both online and offline, restrictions of access to the internet, as well as allegations of severe interference in the electoral process, including arrests of political activists.

We therefore call upon the relevant authorities to ensure a timely and full investigation of all reported election irregularities and to implement the recommendations of the upcoming EU Election Expert Mission report. 

The authorities were faced with the challenging task of countering serious terrorist threats and attacks. The EU condemns all acts of violence, which took place in the lead up to the elections and calls on all parties and actors to use peaceful and democratic mechanisms to settle differences, refraining from further violence.

The EU attaches paramount importance to political pluralism, democratic values, independent media, vibrant civil society, judicial independence and international human rights standards, which are key for democratic elections. We call on all political actors in Pakistan to engage in a peaceful and inclusive dialogue aiming at the formation of a stable government and to respect human rights in line with the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, as well as with international treaties to which Pakistan is party.

Pakistan is an important partner for the European Union and we look forward to continuing to work with the Government of Pakistan on the priorities agreed in the EU-Pakistan Strategic Engagement Plan. We encourage Pakistan to continue reforms in the areas of human rights, good governance, as well as labour rights and environmental standards, to address the shortcomings outlined in the GSP+ report of November 2023, and to continue the necessary economic reforms.