WASHINGTON: The United States remains concerned about the participation of Lashkar-e-Taiba-affiliated (LeT) individuals in the July 25 elections and has conveyed its concern to Islamabad as well, says the US State Department.

However, in a statement a copy of which is available with Dawn, the department noted with satisfaction that the Pakistan Election Commission had rejected the registration of Milli Muslim League (MML) in June, “citing its linkages to LeT, an internationally-sanctioned terr­orist organisation”.

The statement pointed out that the State Department also amended its Foreign Terrorist Organisation designation of LeT in April to add the MML as a Lashkar alias.

EU asks Islamabad to ensure electoral activities remain safe

“We have repeatedly expressed our concerns to the Pakistani government about LeT, including the participation of LeT-affiliated individuals in the elections,” the statement added.

In an earlier statement, the State Department had stressed the need to continue the electoral process despite recent terrorist attacks targeting senior Pakistani politicians.

'Doomsday': Victims recall horror of Mastung blast

In a similar statement issued in Brussels, the European Union urged Islamabad to ensure that electoral activities in all parts of Pakistan continued in “safe and secure conditions”.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said last week that Japan strongly hoped the general election would be held this month freely, fairly and peacefully, without giving in” to terrorists who wanted to disturb the democratic process in Pakistan.

In Washington, US State Department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert said that such attacks on political candidates and their supporters were “cowardly attempts to deprive the Pakistani people of their democratic rights”.

The European Union said that it expected Pakistani authorities to “take all the necessary steps to ensure that electoral activities in all parts of the country take place in safe and secure conditions”.

All political contestants and citizens should be able to “exercise their constitutional rights to participate in the forthcoming general elections without intimidation or fear for their security,” it added.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2018

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