WASHINGTON: The Biden ad­­ministration remains steadfast in its stance of non-interference in the formation of the government in Pakistan, dismissing calls from

US lawmakers and others to withhold recognition of the Feb 8 election results.

At Wednesday’s news briefing in Washington, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller reiterated this point when asked whether the prospective coalition set-up in Pakistan would be deemed representative.

“I don’t want to comment on the government before it is formed,” he said. “Ultimately, as is the case wherever you see coalition politics taking place in any given country, it’s a decision for that country itself. It’s not something we would weigh in on.”

During a similar news briefing on Tuesday, he characterised the efforts to form a coalition government as Pakistan’s internal matter. “I do not want to get into an internal Pakistani matter, which I very much believe that the formation of a new government is.”

Seeks probe into ‘irregularities’; calls on Pakistan to lift social media restrictions

And as in several previous briefings, Mr Miller reiterated his support for calls for a thorough investigation into any claims of interference, irregularities or voter intimidation. “We want to see a full investigation into any claims of irregularities,” he said.

On Wednesday, he also issued a strong appeal to Pakistan to restore social media access when informed that people had no access to Twitter for three consecutive days.

“We are concerned by any report of restrictions on freedom of association and expression in Pakistan, including the partial or complete government-imposed shutdowns on social media platforms,” he said. “We continue to call on Pakistan to respect freedom of expression and to restore access to any that has been restricted, including Twitter.”

He emphasised that in engagements with their Pakistani counterparts, US officials “have and will continue to emphasise the importance of respecting these fundamental freedoms.” The US concern on this issue, he said, has been communicated to Islamabad.

On Tuesday, he also responded to rigging allegations by former Rawalpindi commissioner Lia-quat Ali Chattha, saying, “When it comes to any claims of interference or allegations of irregularities, we want to see those fully investigated.”

Last week, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stressed, “We consistently convey clearly, both publicly and privately, to the Pakistani government and across the Pakistani political spectrum the need to respect the will of the Pakistani people.”

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2024

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