Tuesday, February 13, 2024
WASHINGTON: The United States has urged Pakistani authorities to hold an independent probe into the claims of irregularities and rigging during the February 8 general elections in the country through its legal system.
The final results of the Feb 8 polls suffered from inordinate delay, raising doubts over elections’ transparency.
Several political parties, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) have alleged irregularities and rigging in the election process.
While the other parties, including PPP, PML-N and MQM-P have kicked off negotiations to form a coalition government as no party was able to secure a simple majority in the elections.
The PTI-backed independent candidates won the most seats, followed by PML-N and PPP.
Addressing a daily press briefing on Monday, the State Department Spokesperson, Matthew Miller said, “Right now we think it’s a matter of first course, the legal system play itself out in Pakistan, that’s the appropriate first step to take and we think that’s the step that should be taken."
Responding to a question about the US lawmakers asking the Biden administration to push for an independent investigation into the claims of alleged election fraud, he said, “I don’t know what body are they proposing to conduct an independent investigation would be”.
“If there are additional steps that ought to be entertained we are happy to look into that,” he added.
To another related question, he reiterated: “The claims of interference and fraud that we have seen raised and we want to ensure that these are fully investigated by Pakistan’s legal system. We will continue to monitor that in the days ahead.”
While calling for the alleged election irregularities fully investigated, the spokesperson said it was clearly a competitive election in which people were able to exercise their choice, and “ultimately we respect the democratic process and we are ready to work with the government once it’s formed”.
The spokesperson said that the US has expressed concerns publicly, and privately and joined the EU, the UK and other countries in doing so “with some irregularities that we saw in the process. We conveyed the need for the Pakistani government to respect the will of the election”.
“We emphasise that we want to see the rule of law, respect for Constitution, free press, vibrant civil society respected in the run-up to the elections and we continue to believe that is the case,” he said while condemning political and election-related violence and restrictions on internet and cell phone service, those negatively impacted the electoral service.