Islamabad: The unprecedented turnout in Pakistan's general election reflected people's commitment to democratic rule, an European Union (EU) mission observing the landmark event said on Monday.

"Election day showed the commitment of the people of Pakistan to democratic governance by overcoming militant violence. We saw a competitive process, with twice as many candidates as there were in 2008," said Michael Gahler, chief observer of the EU Election Observation Mission.

He said that some political parties were unable to campaign because of threats from the Taliban. “Various aspects of the election process improved, but there were still shortcomings and the framework for polls should be developed to strengthen democracy,” he said.

Voting at 90 percent of the polling stations in 184 constituencies covered by the EU observers was "satisfactory or good", while irregularities were detected in nine percent of polling stations, Gahler added.

There were 62 election-related security incidents on election day that resulted in 64 deaths, the EU mission said in a preliminary statement. Before the landmark polls on Saturday, over 150 people, including candidates, were killed in attacks by the Taliban and other militant groups.

The European Union (EU) mission noted that the targeting of three secular-leaning parties – Pakistan People's Party, Awami National Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement – by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan "unbalanced the playing field and distorted the election process considerably in affected areas".

There were 130 attacks resulting in the death of 150 people in the last four weeks. The majority of the attacks took place in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, followed by Sindh and Punjab. Most of the attacks were directed against candidates and supporters of parties identified as secular, the statement said.

(Agencies)

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