The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), a regional network based organization of 21 civil  society  groups  from  across  Asia, views  with  great  concern  intimidation  of  its  member  organization  in  Pakistan  the Free  and  Fair  Election  Network  (FAFEN)  and  a  need  for  timely  and full  transparency  from  the  Election  Commission  of Pakistan (ECP) during the post‐election period.

Of  immediate  concern  is  the ability  of  all  Civil  Society  Organizations  in  Pakistan,  including FAFEN,  to  operate freely  and without the threat of violence and intimidation.  Civil  Society  is  crucial  to  democracy  in  Pakistan,  as  it  is  in  all countries, and threats made against its members undermine the important work that groups such as FAFEN perform. Such threats, no matter their source, only serve to weaken the democratic system itself.

On  matters  specific  to  the  post‐election  period,  full  disclosure  of  all  data  related  to  election  results  as  well as longer-term Electoral Reform should be the primary focus of the Election Commission of Pakistan as a means to lessen current and future election irregularities. By focusing on the important, outstanding issues made evident in the past election, the ECP can show the public in Pakistan and beyond  that  they  are  sincere  about  improving  the  electoral  processes in Pakistan. On the other hand, if the ECP does not exercise its authority to make polling station data public and undertake real reform, they will surely fail to move the country’s election system forward. ANFREL believes that the right choice is clear;  only  through  complete  transparency  and  real  reform  can  the  ECP  deliver  the  improvements  that  the  people  of Pakistan deserve.

ANFREL  hopes  that  state  authorities,  political  parties  and  media  can  choose  a  constructive  path  that  allows  CSOs  to contribute  to  the  transparency  and  public  trust  present  in  every  successful  election.    “Civil  Society  plays  an  important role  in  ensuring  that  elections  are  free,  fair,  and  transparent.  An  engaged  and  vibrant  Civil  Society  is  a  hallmark  of  a mature  democracy  and,  as  such,  all  election  stakeholders  should  welcome  and  facilitate  Civil  Society  playing  its proper role,” ANFREL Executive Director Ichal Supriadi pointed out.

But  to carry  out  its  work,  civil  society  in general,  and election observation groups  in particular,  need access  to election related  data  that  is  accurate,  timely,  and  easily  accessible.  No  matter  the  country,  every  ANFREL  member  depends  on state  institutions,  in  many  cases  the  Election  Management  Body  of  their  country,  to  provide  accurate  data  in  a  timely manner  and  in  an  accessible  format.  Failure  to  provide  data  in  this  way  prevents  observation  groups,  election contestants  and  the public  at  large from  being able to  double check  or  verify  the accuracy  of  later  claims  and  reduces public  confidence  in  the  election  and  the  election  management  body.  Such  data  belongs  to  the  public  and  it  is  the responsibility  of  state  institutions  to provide  it  to the  public.  In this  case,  the  ECP’s  release  of  data  such as  the  polling scheme is both a duty mandated by law and also a strategically smart decision in order to increase public confidence in the election. Given that, ANFREL hopes that the ECP reconsiders its current stance and meets its obligations both to the law and to the public.

Release  of  the  final  polling  scheme  used,  together  with  the  forms  used  by  Election  Officials  for  ballot  counting  and results consolidation, would be a significant step towards resolving some of the confusion and distrust that lingers more than  two  weeks  after  the  election. These  forms  are  the  raw  data  that  enables  much  of  the useful investigation and analysis necessary during the post‐election period to ensure electoral justice is provided for all.

By releasing these documents and focusing on needed electoral reforms, the ECP has the opportunity to play a positive role  in  resolving  many  of  the  remaining  challenges  to  Pakistan’s  Election  System.  Doing  so  would  also  strengthen  the crucial process of electoral dispute resolution that needs to continue to take place in the country.  Unnecessary further delay will only sew more doubt and confusion during this critical time.