On February 10, the United States, the UK, and the European Union (EU) collectively expressed concerns regarding the conduct of elections in Pakistan. Their statements followed a vote on February 8, prompting calls for an investigation into reported issues during the electoral process.
The conclusion of Pakistan's general election on Thursday was marred by sporadic violence and disruptions in internet connectivity. As a precautionary measure against potential terrorist attacks, authorities went so far as to suspend both internet and mobile services.
Addressing a press briefing, US State Department spokesperson Mathew Miller highlighted "undue restrictions" on freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. He, however, hailed Pakistani poll workers, civil society, journalists, and election observers for their work to protect and uphold Pakistan’s democratic and electoral institutions.
“Millions of Pakistanis made their voices heard by voting in Pakistan’s elections on February 8, with record numbers of Pakistani women, members of religious and ethnic minority groups, and youth registered. We now look forward to timely, complete results that reflect the will of the Pakistani people," Miller said.
The State Department official emphasized that claims of fraud or interference should be investigated thoroughly and said that the United States concurs with credible domestic and international election monitors that the rights to free speech, association, and peaceful assembly were unduly restricted during the elections.
“We condemn 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. Claims of interference or fraud should be fully investigated,” he said.
Miller emphasized that the United States is prepared to collaborate with the upcoming Pakistani government, "regardless of political party," to promote the common interests shared between Washington and Islamabad.
“We look forward to bolstering our partnership by supporting Pakistan’s economy through trade and investment."
He said that the United States will persist in assisting Pakistan in bolstering its democratic establishments, participating in the US-Pakistan Green Alliance Framework, expanding interpersonal connections, and advocating for human rights, such as the right to free speech. “We are also committed to strengthening our security cooperation and creating an environment of safety and security that affords the Pakistani people the peace, democracy, and progress they deserve.”
Image source: Hindustan Times