Summary: 27 February 2008, Brussels - MEPs who monitored Pakistan's general election on 18 February praised Pakistani voters and election officials who braved the threat of violence. In a report to Parliament's foreign affairs committee on Tuesday, MEPs on the observer mission said the poll took place in a positive atmosphere although there were irregularities. With all the results in, the election represents a defeat for the supporters of President Musharraf.
The European Union sent a large observation mission to Pakistan, headed by German Christian Democrat Michael Gahler. It was made up of 131 observers from 23 EU countries and was present in Pakistan from December onwards.
For the election itself it was joined by a cross party team from Parliament headed by British Labour Member Robert Evans.
Local authorities favouring ruling party
The report was presented by Mr Gahler and Mr Evans. During their mission they reported finding evidence that local authorities primarily favoured the former ruling parties during the campaign. There was also some disorder and some procedural irregularities. A final report will be published in mid-April.
With all the results in, the main winners were the Pakistani People's Party (now run by Benazir Bhutto’s widower) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) run by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
MEPs pay tribute to voters, candidates
Both MEPs paid tribute to the voters, candidates, officials and the media and civil society who took part in the poll, which was overshadowed by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
Commenting on the result Mr Gahler said that "people did express their views through the vote and the vote, the results, reflected what people have said".