Amidst cry of foul play and rigging, US has questioned the fairness of Wednesday’s elections in Pakistan adding that it shared the concerns expressed by the European Union and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
According to Dawn report from Washington, the US State Department, in a statement issued on Friday, underlined what it said were flaws in the pre-voting electoral process and the constraints placed on freedom of expression and association.
“The United States shares concerns about flaws in the pre-voting electoral process, as expressed by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan,” said the department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert.
“These included constraints placed on freedoms of expression and association during the campaign period that were at odds with Pakistani authorities’ stated goal of a fully fair and transparent election.”
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Ms Nauert said the United States concurs with the conclusions of the European Union Election Observation Mission, whose report notes that while there were positive changes to the legal framework for elections in Pakistan, these were “overshadowed by restrictions on freedom of expression and unequal campaign opportunities”.
She further said that US also “has deep reservations over the participation of terrorist-affiliated individuals in the elections.” She also commended Pakistani voters for “fully rejecting these candidates.”
“Along with our international partners, the United States will continue to encourage a broadening of opportunities for political participation for all Pakistanis, and for the further strengthening of legitimate, democratic institutions,” said Ms Nauert.
“As Pakistan’s elected leaders form a new government, the United States will look for opportunities to work with them to advance our goals of security, stability, and prosperity in South Asia,” she added.
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The European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM), which had appointed observers for the July 25 elections, said on Friday that although “there were several legal provisions aimed at ensuring level playing field, there as lack of equality of opportunity” provided to the contesting parties.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), in its statement on Wednesday, said that it has observed the lectoral process over the past several months, paying special attention to reports of violence, allegations of pre-poll manipulation and the arrangements put in place by the Election Commission of Pakistan. The HRCP pointed out several shortcomings during the polling including lack of facilities and discouraging attitude of the staff responsible for conducting the process.
Meanwhile, Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General,has congratulated the people of Pakistan upon the conclusion of elections, saying that he “looks forward to the formation of a new government”.
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In a statement read out by his spokesman Stephane Djuarric on Friday, Guterres said, “By exercising their constitutional right to vote, the people of Pakistan have reaffirmed their commitment to a democratic Pakistan.”
On Wednesday, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif, had expressed strong reservations over the polling process, saying his party doesn’t accept the preliminary results shared by the Election Commission of Pakistan. He was quoted saying, “I am forced to say that we completely reject these results” alleging that there has been a “blatant violation of public’s mandate”.
According to the results declared so far, out of 272 contestable seats in the national assembly, Imran Khan led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has won 116 seats, Shahbaz Sharif led PML-N won 63, Bilawal Bhutto led Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) remained distant third with 43, while others won 45 seats. Counting is still one for five remaining seats.
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