US questions conduct of Pakistan elections, calls for fraud probe
February 10, 2024 09:19 AM
The United States on Friday called into question the "undue restrictions" put in place during Pakistan's electoral process and expressed concern about allegations of vote-rigging, but pledged to work with whoever forms the next government.
Candidates loyal to jailed former prime minister Imran Khan were ahead as vote counting dragged on following Thursday's election.
His Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was faring better than expected despite a crackdown targeting the party, but the next government was still likely to be formed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) after a spell of political horse trading.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Washington looked forward to "timely, complete results that reflect the will of the Pakistani people," as he listed US concerns with the process. "We join credible international and local election observers in their assessment that these elections included undue restrictions on freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly," Miller said in a statement.
"We condemn electoral violence... and are concerned about allegations of interference in the electoral process. Claims of interference or fraud should be fully investigated."
Miller, however, noted the administration of President Joe Biden was "prepared to work with the next Pakistani government, regardless of political party, to advance our shared interests," including trade, investment and security cooperation.
Earlier, the UK has shown serious concerns about ‘fairness and lack of inclusivity ‘in the general elections in Pakistan.
In a statement, Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said: “The UK and Pakistan enjoy a close and long-standing relationship, underpinned by strong links between our people. Following yesterday’s elections, we commend all those who voted.
The statement added: “We recognise, however, serious concerns raised about the fairness and lack of inclusivity of the elections.
“We regret that not all parties were formally permitted to contest the elections and that legal processes were used to prevent some political leaders from participation and to prevent the use of recognisable party symbols.
“We also note the restrictions imposed on internet access on polling day, significant delays to the reporting of results and claims of irregularities in the counting process.
It continued: “The UK urges authorities in Pakistan to uphold fundamental human rights including free access to information, and the rule of law. This includes the right to a fair trial, through adherence to due process and an independent and transparent judicial system, free from interference.
“The election of a civilian government with the mandate to deliver crucial reforms is essential for Pakistan to flourish. The new government must be accountable to the people it serves, and work to represent the interests of all Pakistan’s citizens and communities with equity and justice. We look forward to working with Pakistan’s next government to achieve this and across the range of our shared interests.”