ISLAMABAD: Pakis­tan has dismissed the United States’ suggestion to probe electoral discrepancies, emphasising that it will not succumb to external dictates.

In her weekly press bri­efing on Friday, Foreign Office spokes­person Mum­taz Zahra Baloch categorically stated that no country can give directions to Pakistan, which is an independent and sovereign country.

“We believe in our own sovereign right to make decisions about Pakistan’s internal affairs,” Ms Bal­och said while replying to the comments made by her US counterpart reg­arding allegations of misconduct in the elections held on February 8.

Earlier this week, US State Department spoke­sperson Matt­hew Miller said any claims of interference or fraud “should be fully and transparently investigated in accordance with Pakis­tan’s own laws and procedures”.

On another occasion, he said, “With respect to inv­estigations into reported irregularities, we want to see those investigations proceed … [and] wrapped up as soon as possible.”

The comments were prompted by accusations — particularly by PTI-backed candidates — of tampering with and manipulation of election results announced after an unprecedented delay by the Elec­tion Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The ECP and the caretaker government have strongly refuted the accusations, urging political parties to pursue legal remedies for their complaints through courts and other appropriate channels.

Mr Miller isn’t the only US official to express concerns over the polls. Around 35 Congress members, led by Democratic Party’s Gregorio Casar, have written a letter to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging not to acknowledge the new government in Islamabad formed after the election.

While replying to a question about the letter, Ms Baloch said, “This is a communication between public officials in the US and is not addressed to the government of Pakistan. We therefore have no comments to offer on such letters,” she added.

Ms Baloch said Pakistan is a “dynamic democracy” and possesses the necessary domestic frameworks to address any issues related to elections or democratic processes. The spokesperson also refrained from commenting on a letter written to the International Monetary Fund by PTI to link any future financial support with the audit of the election.

“As you know, the prime minister has made a statement on this matter. The Ministry of Finance takes the lead on IMF-related issues, so they will be in a better position to comment on this subject.”

On a question about the indictment of four Pakistani nationals in the US for supplying arms to Houthi rebels, the spokesperson said FO was in touch with the US Embassy in Islamabad and Pakistan’s Embassy in Washington to ascertain facts and provide consular access to the individuals following confirmation of their nationality.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2024

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