“While we would like to be in all parts of the country, we cannot be. This is partly because we have limited numbers and partly because of security reasons,” Michael Gahler told reporters as he announced the mission‘s goals in Islamabad.
“It is with regret that I must say that we, therefore, are not able to have observers in important parts of the country such as FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and Balochistan.”
Gahler said the observers would try to follow the election in those areas with the help of local groups.
The Taliban insurgent movement, which is fighting for an Islamist state, remains powerful in parts of the tribal regions, which border Afghanistan. Sectarian violence has, meanwhile, gripped Balochistan, with about 200 people killed in such incidents so far this year.
The EU mission‘s monitoring group started its work on Monday with a core team of 11 analysts. They will be gradually joined by nearly 100 observers from the 27-member bloc, Norway, Switzerland and Canada, according to the mission.
Gahler said the election was important and said the EU had an interest in “Pakistan and democracy.”
“This is an opportunity for Pakistan to deepen its democratic practices and structures, to develop good governance to the benefit of the people of Pakistan and beyond.”
Gahler, a German member of the European Parliament since 1999, previously led an EU election observation mission to Pakistan in 2008.
The mission‘s launch came a few days after a video message of Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud surfaced last week, in which he condemned democracy and vowed to wage jihad to impose sharia law.
“Democracy goes against sharia,” Mehsud said in the video. “Jews have introduced democracy to split and segregate the Muslims.”
The Pakistani Taliban movement has already warned of attacks on election rallies of parties promoting secular thoughts and condemning the violent insurgency.
Only a few parties, like the former ruling Pakistan People‘s Party, have had to cancel their campaign meetings as a result of the warnings.
The upcoming election is expected to pave the way for the first-ever democratic transition in Pakistan, which has seen four military interventions since gaining independence from British rule in 1947. dpa sm yam sub ncs Author: Yasir Mansuri, Sajjad Malik