US election observer group not to monitor Feb 18 polls over violence concerns

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Lahore, Feb 1 : The US-based International Republican Institute that was planning to monitor the February 18 parliamentary elections in Pakistan has cancelled its involvement over election-day security concerns.

"We don't believe the security environment is such that we could do the things we'd like to do," the Washington Post quoted, Thomas E Garrett, the International Republican Institute's election expert on Pakistan, as saying.

The IRI has said that due to the fear of potential suicide bombings and general acts of violence, the group won't be able to monitor the vote or evaluate the outcome with credibility.

According to the Washington Post, after the IRI's departure international presence in Pakistan general elections has reduced to 100 observers from the European Union, a few foreign politicians, and "small teams pulled together from embassies in Islamabad".

"There may be only slightly more than one observer per million voters," the report said.

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