International journalists, observers to cover February 8 elections in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: International observers and journalists would monitor and cover the February 8 general elections in Pakistan and the government is processing over 170 requests, including two dozen from India, Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi said on Tuesday.
“As many as 49 visas had been issued so far to foreign journalists while 32 were currently under process. Our High Commission in New Delhi has received around 24 requests that are also under process. The total requests received from various outlets are 174,” Solangi told a news conference here.
Dawn.com reported that the information minister said in case of international observers, 25 applications from Britain, eight from the Russia, 13 from Japan, five from Canadian parliamentarians, two from South Africa, and five requests from Commonwealth nations were also being processed.
Solangi also regretted that some people were spreading rumours that no international observers or journalists were visiting Pakistan to cover the elections. “He said that those spreading such rumours were of the view that ‘we will conduct a burqa-clad election’ (but) ‘There is no truth in it’,” the Dawn quoted him as saying.
The accreditation cards issued to foreign journalists and international observers were only restricted to Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad, the Minister said adding, “But if any foreigner wants to visit any other city, it is being processed on a case-to-case basis.”
Soon after the general elections were announced in October 2023, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had asked the Foreign Office to take all necessary steps to invite international observers for the elections. Later that month, the electoral watchdog had extended an invitation to international observers, the Dawn.com said.
Jailed former prime minister Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) have consistently alleged that there was no “level playing field” for his party. The ECP has stripped PTI of its symbol, cricket bat, and also rejected nomination papers of Khan and several of his party leaders.
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