ISLAMABAD - Chief Observer of the EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Pakistan and Member of the European Parliament, Michael Gahler, has raised his serious concerns about the increased level of violence against certain political parties during a visit to Peshawar.

In a press statement issued by the EUEOM here on Friday, Gahler reiterated his call, when visiting Karachi last week, on state authorities to do their utmost to protect the lives of candidates and citizens and safeguard the democratic process.

He said that the targeted attacks on certain political parties and their supporters in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan are not only affecting these parties by distorting the playing field, adding that in fact, every attack is an assault on the democratic process as a whole, and on the right of citizens to have an equal say in their governance.

“I welcome the efforts of Pakistan’s state authorities to provide security for the elections, and I urge all stakeholders to do everything within their means to stand up against the violence and provide forcitizensto exercise their democratic rights without fear,” said the Chief Observer.

During his visit, Gahler met with provincial government officials, the election administration, political candidates and representatives from civil society from Khyber Pakthunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

The dstatement further said that the EU EOM’s long-term methodology looks at several stages in the electoral process. The mission observes the elections in Islamabad, Khyber Pakthunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh. While the EU EOM has not deployed any observers in Balochistan and FATA, the Chief Observer’s recent visits show the EU EOM’s interest in actively following what is happening in those areas.