UNITED NATIONS: While UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern about suspension of mobile communications services and violence in Pakistan on election day, the European Union and the United States adopted cautious response with the former seeking investigation into irregularities and the latter saying the State Department is looking forward to “timely, complete election results that reflect the will of the Pakistani people”.

“As Pakistan awaits the results of the elections, the secretary-general encourages all political leaders and society segments to maintain a calm atmosphere, as well as refrain from the use of violence and any actions that could increase tensions,” UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.

“It is important for all candidates and supporters to ensure that human rights and the rule of law are fully respected in the interest of the Pakistani people and (to) resolve any disputes that might arise through established legal procedures,” the spokesperson added.

US looks forward to ‘timely, complete’ polls results that reflect the will of Pakistanis

EU, US demand probe

In a statement on the general elections in Pakistan, the European Union said, “We regret the lack of a level playing field due to the inability of some political actors to contest the elections, restrictions to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression both online and offline, restrictions of access to the internet, as well as allegations of severe interference in the electoral process, including arrests of political activists.

“We therefore call upon the relevant authorities to ensure a timely and full investigation of all reported election irregularities and to implement the recommendations of the upcoming EU Election Expert Mission report.”

On the other hand, the US State Department said, “Millions of Pakistanis made their voices heard by voting in Pakistan’s elections on February 8, with record numbers of Pakistani women, members of religious and ethnic minority groups, and youth registered. We commend Pakistani poll workers, civil society, journalists and election observers for their work to protect and uphold Pakistan’s democratic and electoral institutions. We now look forward to timely, complete results that reflect the will of the Pakistani people.

“We join credible international and local election observers in their assessment that these elections included undue restrictions on freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. We condemn electoral violence, restrictions on the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including attacks on media workers, and restrictions on access to the Internet and telecommunication services, and are concerned about allegations of interference in the electoral process. Claims of interference or fraud should be fully investigated.

“The United States is prepared to work with the next Pakistani government, regardless of political party, to advance our shared interests. We look forward to bolstering our partnership by supporting Pakistan’s economy through trade and investment.

“We will continue to support Pakistan strengthening its democratic institutions, engage through the US-Pakistan Green Alliance Framework, broaden people-to-people ties, and promote human rights including freedom of expression. We are also committed to strengthening our security cooperation and creating an environment of safety and security that affords the Pakistani people the peace, democracy, and progress they deserve.”

UK commends voters

In a statement on Pakistan’s elections, UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said the British government commended those who voted. The statement said, “We recognise, however, serious concerns raised about the fairness and lack of inclusivity of the elections. We regret that not all parties were formally permitted to contest the elections and that legal processes were used to prevent some political leaders from participation, and to prevent the use of recognisable party symbols.”

It added, “We also note the restrictions imposed on internet access on polling day, significant delays to the reporting of results and claims of irregularities in the counting process.”

Cameron also urged authorities in Pakistan to “uphold fundamental human rights including free access to information, and the rule of law”.

International media, too, hinted towards the lack of credibility and rigging.

The Economist, in its article, called the election “rigged”, stating that confusion reigns in Pakistan’s “rigged election”. Time published a piece with the title, “Pakistan’s elections are being brazenly rigged. Why doesn’t the US seem to care?”, which summed up the chronological history of PTI after the May 9 riots and the expectations of the International Community from these elections.

However, according to Tasnim news agency, the spokesperson of the Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Kanani, congratulated the government and people of Pakistan on the successful holding of the general parliamentary elections, which shows the strong position of democracy in this country.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wished success to the government and nation of “our friend, neighbour and brother” Pakistan in completing this process.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2024

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