The Karachi Union of Journalists-Dastoor (KUJ-D) has criticised the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for preventing journalists from covering Wednesday’s polling process, saying restrictions on the media have created serious doubts about the transparency of the elections exercise.
“Media persons, including print and electronic media journalists and photographers, were not allowed to enter polling stations to observe polling process and speak to polling agents of different political parties,” said KUJ-Dastoor President Tariq Abul Hasan and Secretary Hamidur Rehman in a statement on Thursday.
“This restriction has raised serious doubts about the authenticity and transparency of the general polls.”
Citing various incidents, the KUJ-D office-bearers said hundreds of journalists were issued passes by the ECP to observe the polling process but despite showing these passes to security personnel at almost all the polling stations, they were not allowed to enter and observe.
Similarly, media personnel were also not allowed to enter the polling stations and observe the vote counting process after a large number of contesting candidates claimed that their polling agents were kicked out of the polling stations and votes were counted in their absence.
“These restrictions were quite strange. The ECP claimed of holding 100 per cent free, fair and transparent polls but kept media away from observing the polling process,” they said, demanding that the body issue an explanation as to why media persons were denied access to polling stations despite having the relevant press passes. The KUJ-D leaders also highlighted several incidents in Karachi where law enforcers verbally abused and misbehaved with working journalists when they showed their passes to them to be allowed access inside polling stations.
They said that at some places, reporters were briefly detained and security personnel misbehaved with them after they tried to convince them that they were authorised by the ECP to observe the polling and counting of votes.
“Barring media persons and voters from carrying their mobile phones also raised serious doubts about the polling process, which should be investigated and answered by the authorities,” they added.