WASHINGTON: While stressing the need for timely elections, the US has urged the Pakistan government to take the electoral process forward as per the law.

In a press briefing on Wednes­day, the State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller was asked about President Arif Alvi’s letter proposing Nov 6 as election day and whether this move would lead to another constitutional crisis in the country.

In reply, Mr Miller said as it did with other countries, the US urged Pakistan “to hold a free and fair and timely elections” and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.

“We urge Pakistani authorities to move forward with the electoral process in a manner consistent with Pakistan’s laws,” he said.

State Dept dispels impression Biden govt misled public on Kabul withdrawal

In Washington’s diplomatic circles, the statement was seen as a reflection of the Biden administration’s desire to support democracy in Pakistan without favouring any party or group.

At the briefing, Mr Miller also talked about US-Pakistan relations, playing down suggestions that the current political crisis had also impacted bilateral relations.

“Pakistan is an important partner of ours. And we greatly value the relationship between our countries, both between our two governments and the people-to-people connections.”

Responding to a question on the Torkham border dispute bet­ween Pakistan and Afghanistan, the US official said the two governments should work together to resolve the issue.

Congress summons spokespersons

The spokesperson also dispelled the impression that the Biden government “misled” the citizens over the situation in the lead-up to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.

Mr Miller added that even though he was not part of the government, the administration had repeatedly said “the situation changed very rapidly in a way that could not be anticipated”.

The spokesperson was replying to a question about summons to three current and former Biden administration spokespersons to testify before Congress.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, a Republican member, has summoned White House National Security Spokesperson John Kirby, former White House press secretary Jen Pskai and former State Department spokesperson Ned Price to testify before the committee on the withdrawal.

Mr Miller replaced Mr Price in March this year.

The spokesperson said that the State Department has already provided hundreds of documents to the committee, which had also interviewed many officials.

“We will continue to push to cooperate with his committee to provide the information that it needs,” he added.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2023

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