BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT: European Union is preparing to setup up an observation mission for the upcoming general elections in Pakistan and EU Commission has already sent an observatory mission to explore the specific requirements for the job, Daily Times has learnt. The European Union official sources have informed that they have recently sent the preparatory mission to Pakistan after the EU received a request from the Election Commission of Pakistan to send a team of international observers to monitor the 2018 polls. The Commission had sent an 11-member core team and 52 long-term observers (LTOs) from EU member states and from partner countries like Canada, Norway and Switzerland in 2013. An additional 46-member team of short-term observers was also deployed across the country on the polling day. The EU Election Observation Mission operates in Pakistan under United Nations Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation (2005). The observers adhere to the strict code of conduct requiring maintenance of strict impartiality during their monitoring work. The last observation mission was led by a respected European Parliamentarian Michael Gahler who hails from Germany’s province of Hessen and serves for the ruling Christian Democratic Party (CDU). The names of those in the observation mission for 2018 polls will be made public once a date has been announced by Pakistan for the election. Speaking to Daily Times, Michael Gahler, the chief election observer for last EU mission, said, “The European Commission has already sent an exploratory mission to study the specific needs for an election observation mission. The recruitment process for the core team members has also begun.” He added that EOM members were selected in view of the country and the mission, although EOM experience was required for leading the team. He said that EU delegation in Islamabad was already in touch with the political parties and election authorities to do the ground work for the observation team to ensure a smooth observation process. “Independently from the work of EOMs, it is the EU Delegation in Islamabad, which is in touch with political parties and stakeholders on a permanent basis,” the former Chief Election Observer maintained, adding that the inter-parliamentary relations with Pakistan are covered by the European Parliament’s ‘Delegation for Relations with the Countries of South Asia’ and this standing body covers Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Published in Daily Times, March 29th 2018.