Washington/Islamabad: The United States of America has condemned “electoral violence, restrictions on the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including attacks on media workers, and restrictions on access to the Internet and telecommunication services, and are concerned about allegations of interference in the electoral process” during Pakistan elections.
“Claims of interference or fraud should be fully investigated,” the US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said here.
It may be mentioned that the general elections in Pakistan were held on February 8, 2024. The Pakistani military said at least 12 people were killed and 39 wounded nationwide during attacks aimed at disrupting the vote. Millions of Pakistanis made their voices heard by voting in the elections, with record numbers of Pakistani women, members of religious and ethnic minority groups, and youth registered.
“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”.
At the same time, the US commended Pakistani poll workers, civil society, journalists and election observers for their work to protect and uphold Pakistan’s democratic and electoral institutions. “We now look forward to timely, complete results that reflect the will of the Pakistani people,” Miller said. The US, he said, was prepared to work with the next Pakistani government, regardless of political party, to advance their shared interests.
Pakistan election early results showed Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-backed Independent candidates taking the lead, followed by Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and Bilawal Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party. It may be mentioned that PTI was denied the use of its election symbol, the cricket bat, while its leader, Imran has been in jail since August 2023, after being sentenced on several counts.
PTI-backed candidates had so far won 99 seats out of the total 266 seats in the National Assembly, while its rival PMLN was second with 69 seats. The PPP had so far secured 52 seats, while ‘others’ had got 25 seats. At least 134 seats are needed for a simple majority. At the time of going to the press, the results of 20 seats were yet to be declared while one seat was postponed.
However, Nawaz already claimed victory and invited allies. PPP president Bilawal Bhutto and his father Asif Ali Zardari reportedly arrived in Lahore to meet the PMLN leadership.
“We look forward to bolstering our partnership by supporting Pakistan’s economy through trade and investment. We will continue to support Pakistan in strengthening its democratic institutions, engage through the U.S.-Pakistan Green Alliance Framework, broaden people-to-people ties, and promote human rights including freedom of expression,” Miller said.
The US said it was also committed to strengthening the security cooperation and creating an environment of safety and security that affords the Pakistani people the peace, democracy, and progress they deserve.
– global bihari bureau