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Foreign Office trashes US warning over 'election irregularities'

Reaffirms commitment to Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project: Islamabad not invaded Afghanistan but acted against terror hideouts

By News Desk

March 21, 2024 03:22 PM


Foreign Office trashes US warning over 'election irregularities'

Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch

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The Government of Pakistan on Thursday outrightly dismissed a warning from the United States that relations between the two countries would suffer if it did not probe irregularities in last month's election.

Foreign Office Spokeswoman Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said the warning from Donald Lu, the top US diplomat for South Asia, "reflects a misunderstanding of Pakistan's political situation and electoral laws".

Addressing weekly news briefing in Islamabad on Thursday, Mumtaz Baloch said "We hope to engage in political discussion with the United States to address misunderstandings so that our two countries continue to move forward for regional cooperation."

Lu told lawmakers on Wednesday that the United States had "serious concerns" about the conduct of the February 8 election and ongoing disruptions of media and social media, including a prolonged shutdown of X, formerly known as Twitter, and called for an investigation. "The Election Commission of Pakistan, should it find that these irregularities are substantiated, should rerun elections where there's been interference," Lu told a hearing of a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee.

"We have enjoyed 76 years of partnership with this country. It will be an impediment to our relationship if Pakistan does not have a democratic process that upholds its own constitution," Lu said.

Lu said the United States was not considering any major new military sales to Pakistan, a Cold War ally whose army and intelligence apparatus has long played a dominant role in politics and whose past links with Afghanistan's Taliban soured ties with Washington.

Mumtaz Baloch told reporters that Pakistan values its close relations with the US and believes in constructive engagement with it. She said Pakistan respects the prerogative of legislative bodies to discuss international issues. She, however, said the deliberations of these legislative bodies should contribute promoting positive dynamics in bilateral ties based on mutual respect and understanding.

Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project.

Responding to the queries of the media persons regarding yesterday's US congressional hearing, Mumtaz Baloch said it is the sovereign decision of Pakistani government to move forward on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project and Islamabad is committed to it..

She made it clear that at this point there is no room for any discussion or waiver from any third party for the construction of the pipeline inside Pakistan's territory. She said Pakistan has also conveyed to the US authorities the importance of this project for its energy security.

Cross-border raid

Responding to volley of questions regarding Pakistan's recent targeted and intelligence-based operation inside Afghanistan, the spokesperson clarified it was not directed against the government and the institutions or people of Afghanistan but it was against terrorist hideouts and sanctuaries.

She said Pakistan has on multiple occasions shared concrete evidence and intelligence with the Afghan authorities about the presence of terrorist sanctuaries inside Afghanistan. She said it is a reality that terrorists especially the TTP have their basis in Afghanistan. This is not just Pakistan's assertion but also confirmed by the international observers including reports by the United Nations.

The spokesperson said Pakistan respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and looking forward to work together to find joint solutions in countering terrorism and preventing any terrorist entity from sabotaging bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  She emphasized we should be partners in peace and partner against terrorism.

To a question, the spokesperson said Pakistan is committed to protecting CPEC related projects including Gwadar port.

When asked about the Indian Home Minister Amit Shah recent remarks that Azad Kashmir is part of India, the spokesperson said these are unwarranted and based on fallacy. She said Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally recognized dispute whose final disposition is to be made by the Kashmiri people in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions. She emphasized that instead of staking claim on Azad Kashmir, it is important for India to respect the rights of the people of illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir.


News Desk


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