WASHINGTON, March 16: The United States has said that it looks forward to timely, free and fair elections in Pakistan.
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland referred to the forthcoming elections in Pakistan while replying to a question on India-Pakistan relations on Friday.
“Thank you for the reference to Pakistan. As you know, the Pakistani parliament is planning to complete its term tomorrow. We look forward to timely, free and fair elections that’ll result in the first civilian, democratic transition in Pakistan’s history,” she said.
Asked if the United States was assisting Pakistan in conducting these elections, Ms Nuland said: “I don’t know whether Pakistan has requested or whether we have any election support programmes in Pakistan.”
In reply to another question, the US official said Washington supported direct dialogue between India and Pakistan to improve their relationships.
“We have been strongly supporting, both on the Indian side and the Pakistani side, direct dialogue between them, an improvement in their relationship,” she said. “They’ve already made some good strides on the economic side, on the visa side.”
The United States wanted this process of reconciliation to continue and to be expanded to some of those security concerns that they had with each other.
Asked to condemn a recent resolution passed by the Pakistani parliament criticising India for hanging Kashmiri activist Afzal Guru, Ms Nuland said she had not seen what happened in the Pakistani legislature.
In reply to a question on a recent arson attack on a Christian neighbourhood in Lahore, she said: “We have a very strong and continuing human rights dialogue with Pakistan as part of our larger bilateral relationship.”
Ms Nuland refused to comment on a UN Special Rapporteur’s statement that the US drone campaign in Pakistan was a violation of international law.
“We’ve seen his press release. I’m obviously not going to speak about classified information here. What I would say… is that we have a strong, ongoing counter-terrorism dialogue with Pakistan, and that will continue,” she said.