Washington, June 12 : The February 18 general elections in Pakistan were largely free and fair, and provided a genuine opportunity for Pakistani voters to express their will, said the final report prepared by the US Election Observation Mission. The report was released by Democracy International.
According to the report, although the elections occurred within a context of widespread uncertainty, controversy and political turmoil, including significant pre-election violence, "they provided a genuine opportunity for Pakistani voters to express their will", reported the Daily Times.
The report said that at the same time, the election process suffered numerous failings that could undermine elections and democracy in Pakistan in the future.
According to the report, weaknesses in Pakistan's electoral process included flaws in the voter registration system, obstacles to women's participation, and an electoral environment that restricted the independence of the media and the judiciary and limited the ability of parties, candidates and civil society actors to criticise the government.
It predicted that while these problems have not negated the legitimacy of the 2008 elections, they leave open the possibility of fraud and error that could undermine future polls. Pakistan must work to address these issues if it is to successfully move toward meaningful democracy, it added.