LONDON: In response to an invitation from the Pakistan government, a group of international observers is poised to visit the country for monitoring the parliamentary elections scheduled for February 8. This includes a contingent of foreign journalists who have been granted visas to report on the electoral process.
The caretaker government of Pakistan emphasized that the issuance of visas underscores its dedication to ensuring the conduct of free and fair elections while adhering to constitutional mandates.
Scheduled for February 8, the general elections in Pakistan aim to facilitate a democratic power transition, with state institutions committed to ensuring fair elections within the framework of the constitution, according to a senior government official.
Concurrently, the Pakistan High Commission in London has approved visas for 37 British journalists, including The Times’ Christina Lamb, to cover the upcoming elections. Lamb, who had previously faced deportation from Pakistan and encountered visa denials, is among the journalists from prominent media outlets such as CNN, Sky, BBC, and ITV who are en route to Pakistan.
The list comprises 37 journalists from international media outlets, including The Times, CBC, The Telegraph, CNN, Sky News, Foreign Policy Magazine, and BBC News. The high commission noted that their presence will contribute to ensuring the conduct of free and fair elections in line with the directives of the Pakistani government.
Caretaker Federal Minister for Information Murtaza Solangi, on January 23, mentioned that 49 visas for Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi had been issued, with 32 requests still in process, citing delays caused by the manual visa system in India.
Furthermore, 174 requests for Accreditation Cards from the electoral authority for foreign media and their Pakistani staff have been processed, with applications from various countries, including the UK, Russia, Japan, South Africa, and the Commonwealth under the International Observers category.
Ambreen Jan, the Executive Director General for the External Publicity Wing at the Press Information Department, reported that visa applications for election coverage were received from 14 countries, with a total of 81 foreign journalists applying. Of these, 49 visas have been issued, and the remaining applications are under process. Additionally, there are 55 applications for International Election Observers.