The government of Japan and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) signed an agreement, on Wednesday, to help strengthen Pakistan's electoral processes.
The Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan, His Excellency Takashi Kurai, and the Country Director of UNDP in Pakistan, Ignacio Artaza, signed an agreement to provide US $5.9 million over three years [2017-2020] to support the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The aim of the support is also to further strengthen Pakistan's capacity to hold elections. According to a press release issued, "This project will build upon UNDP’s longstanding commitment to develop the capacity of key democratic institutions including provincial and national assemblies and the ECP itself."
Ambassador Kurai said, "I believe that both the Election Commission and UNDP will play their role to make the upcoming election credible and transparent; which surely will be a great achievement of democracy and development for all people of Pakistan."
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The statement included quotations from Artaza as well wherein he discusses the positive impact of this agreement on Pakistan's elections. "The long-standing partnership between UNDP, Japan and the ECP is instrumental in building a foundation for democratic governance and sustainable, inclusive development in Pakistan."
"With the generous funding from Japan, this project will help build the institutional and technical capacity of the ECP to conduct credible and inclusive elections, enhance participation, especially by young voters and women, and work with UNESCO on building a media landscape in which election proceedings are covered accurately and objectively," added UNDP's Country Director.
Secretary Babar Yaqoob Muhammad of the ECP said, "he ECP’s successful partnership with UNDP under its electoral assistance project continues to enhance the professional capacity of the Commission’s staff and election officials."
"We are pleased to continue our partnership with UNDP in our effort to conduct free, fair and transparent elections, and to help create an informed and motivated electorate," the secretary added.
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For the 2013 elections, UNDP trained more than 200 regional and district officers of the ECP on voter education, the first time such an initiative has been conducted in the Pakistan’s history.
In anticipation to the 2018 general elections, this project aims on training election officials and educating voters, in addition to supporting ECP in modernising the process through technology. "During the election itself, the project will assist in improving voting operations and result management," the statement said.