Pakistan polls must not be 'tainted': UK
26 January, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The British government on Thursday lent Pakistan's fragile democracy a helping hand, rejecting all calls for any acts beyond the boundaries of country's constitution.
British High Commissioner to Pakistan Adam Thomson told a select group of journalists at his heavily fortified maximum-security compound in Islamabad that his country wants to see Pakistan successfully handing over power to next civilian government after a "free, fair, transparent and credibly impartial electoral process". "The elections must not be tainted," he said.
"My country won't support any unconstitutional behaviours at a time when the present government is going to complete its term and people are to choose their representatives to govern the country for another five years. We support Pakistan's constitution. All acts as well as demands should be within the parameters of the constitution," he added, in a reference to Dr Tahirul Qadri's "million march" on Islamabad a few day back.
The high commissioner, in a bid to quell rumours that some international forces in connivance with actors within the country were planning to extend tenure of the interim set-up by a year or more to serve their own interests in the region, categorically said the caretaker government must not prolong beyond its stipulated time. "We believe elections should be held on time and managed by an independent election commission under the auspices of a constitutionally-appointed and impartial caretaker government that lasts its proper term and no longer."
While the high commissioner castigated Dr Qadri for his 'unconstitutional' calls at the long march, he supported demands made by the hundreds of thousands of marchers holding a peaceful rally in the federal capital. "Pakistan is suffering from numerous problems at this time. The economy is deteriorating. People are facing shortage of electricity and gas. Government has failed to come up to the expectations of the people."
The envoy said people in Pakistan are not only concerned about quality of their lives but they are equally concerned about the high standards of governance in their country. They want their representatives to deliver and be held accountable for their actions, he added. He said the present Election Commission in Pakistan is the most 'independent' in the history of the country. The ECP must play its role in 'purging ' Pakistan's parliament of people who do not come up to the high standards set for them in the constitution.
He said the elected representatives should act as a role model for the people and that they must enjoy public confidence. He said Britain had supported the ECP in a number of ways –from provision of ballot boxes during the elections to the allocation of funds to Pakistani non-governmental organisations for monitoring of electoral process. To a question that Britain was reportedly 'supporting' Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to form government after the next general election, the envoy said that his country was ready to work with anybody who comes to the power after the general election. "We don't deal with individuals. We are not supporting any party. We are just backing democracy and the constitution in Pakistan," he said.
To a question that Britain reportedly gave Tahirul Qadri a pat on the back to go for the long march, the high commissioner said nobody from his nation ever met Dr Qadri. "I haven't been to Canada for the last 14 years. I assure you that no one from my nation ever met him for the purpose." On India-Pakistan recent tensions on the Line of Control, the British envoy said his country wants both neighbours to sort out their issues through negotiations.
On Afghanistan's situation, the high commissioner hoped that international efforts to bring peace in Afghanistan would bear fruits. He said British Prime Minister David Cameron was holding a trilateral meeting on Afghan reconciliation on February 3-4. President Asif Zardari, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Kayani are expected to participate from the Pakistan's side, he said.