Pakistan rejects US 'directions' on probing alleged election rigging

Pakistan has rejected the US suggestion to probe discrepancies in the February 8 general elections, asserting that it will not succumb to external dictates.

Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch in her weekly press address on Friday said, "No country can give directions to Pakistan, an independent and sovereign nation."

"We believe in our own sovereign right to make decisions about Pakistan's internal affairs," said Baloch in reply to comments made by her US counterpart regarding allegations of misconduct in the controversy-marred general elections.

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller had said any claims of interference or fraud should be fully and transparently investigated per Pakistan's laws and procedures.

Miller said, "Concerning investigations into reported irregularities, we want to see those investigations proceed [and] wrapped up as soon as possible."

The comments were prompted by accusations, particularly by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-backed candidates, of tampering with and manipulation of election results. Miller is not the only US official to express concerns over the polls.

Citing "strong evidence" of election rigging in Pakistan, a group of influential lawmakers, including Muslim legislators, belonging to the ruling Democratic Party has urged US President Joe Biden to withhold "recognition" of a new government in Islamabad until a transparent and credible investigation is conducted.

The February 8 general election, marred by allegations of widespread rigging, in Pakistan, resulted in a hung Parliament with independent candidates backed by the PTI winning more than 90 seats at the 266-member National Assembly.

In a joint letter to President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the lawmakers expressed concerns about "pre-and post-poll rigging in Pakistan's recent parliamentary elections", urging the US Congress to "withhold recognition of a new government in

Pakistan until a thorough, transparent, and credible investigation of election interference has been conducted".

In response to a question about the letter, Baloch said, "This is a communication between public officials in the US and is not addressed to the government of Pakistan. We therefore have no comments to offer on such letters."

Baloch said Pakistan was a dynamic democracy and possessed the necessary domestic frameworks to address issues related to elections or democratic processes.

The spokesperson also refrained from commenting on PTI founder's letter to the International Monetary Fund which linked any future financial support with the election audit.

"As you know the (interim) prime minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has made a statement on this matter. The Ministry of Finance takes the lead on IMF-related issues, so they will be in a better position to comment on this subject," she said.

She said Pakistan had strongly condemned massacre by Israeli forces of unarmed Palestinians who were waiting for food delivery in Gaza.

Baloch said this massacre demonstrated a blatant disregard for international humanitarian law and Israel's deliberate and inhuman policy of mass starvation.

She said Pakistan reiterated its call for immediate and urgent ceasefire, lifting of the inhuman siege and unimpeded access of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.

The spokesperson said Israel must also face justice for its crime against humanity being perpetrated with impunity against the Palestinian people.

On the situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Baloch said Pakistan denounced the decision by Indian authorities to ban the Muslim Conference Jammu and Kashmir Bhat Faction and Muslim Conference Jammu and Kashmir Sumji Faction while extending the current ban on Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir for five more years.

She said these oppressive measures reflected a vicious intent by India to suppress freedom of expression in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir in complete disregard of international human rights and humanitarian law.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt