Baroness Nicholson MEP calls on Pak to address profound democratic deficits

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London, Feb 23 : Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne MEP has called on the incoming government in Pakistan to address the imperatives of the 'profound democratic deficits with rigour and determination so that Pakistan's democracy can finally come of age.'

"I look forward immensely to seeing the new government, whoever they be, to addressing these profound democratic deficits with rigour and determination so that Pakistan's democracy can finally come of age," Nicholson said.

Nicholson was parliamentary member of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM).

While maintaining that the election result did represent the 'will of the people' she has also highlighted that tens of millions of Pakistani citizens are 'disenfranchised and debarred from voting' and was critical of the practice of only allowing those with university degrees to stand for election.

Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne MEP is a member of both the Foreign Affairs Committee and of the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament.

"I welcomed the opportunity to be part of the election as a member of the EU Election Observation Mission to Pakistan. I spent this historic election day in Lahore," said Baroness Nicholson, who is also the European Parliaments Rapporteur on the former Princely State Jammu and Kashmir.

"I pay warm tribute to and gained respect for the dedicated and serious work put in by many hundreds of polling station officials, together with the local police and army who ensured that this highly significant and important day proceeded calmly throughout the city," Nicholson added.

During her five day EUEOM visit to Pakistan, Baroness Nicholson MEP was part of the delegation that met with President Pervez Musharraf and leaders of the main political parties. At these meeting she consistently raised the question of the disenfranchisement of many women, particularly those from the northwest frontier provinces, where tribal rulings had effectively barred their participation in the election.

"As many as 30 million Pakistani citizens are disenfranchised and debarred from voting. I experienced their pain of these excluded citizens of Pakistan when holding separate meetings during the days before and after the elections with high level professionals from women's groups, Kashmiris, Ahmadis and others," Nicholson said.

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