Pakistan dismisses US ‘directions’ to probe election discrepancies – Firstpost

Pakistan has rejected a suggestion from the United States to investigate irregularities in the February 8 general elections, stating that it will not bow to external pressures. Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the Foreign Office spokesperson, emphasized in her weekly press briefing on Friday that Pakistan as an independent and sovereign nation, cannot be directed by any other country.

The February 8 general elections in Pakistan, which were marred by allegations of widespread rigging, resulted in a hung Parliament. Independent candidates supported by the PTI party secured more than 90 seats out of the 266-member National Assembly. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif won 75 seats, while the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) led by former Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto secured 54 seats.

“We believe in our own sovereign right to make decisions about Pakistan’s internal affairs,” Dawn News quoted Baloch as saying in reply to the comments made by her US counterpart regarding allegations of misconduct in the controversy-marred general elections.

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

On another occasion, Miller said: “Concerning 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 jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party-backed candidates, of tampering with and manipulation of election results.

The results were 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.

Miller is not the only US official to express concerns over the polls. Citing “strong evidence” of election rigging in Pakistan, a group of influential lawmakers, including Muslim legislators, belonging to the ruling Democratic Party has urged US President Joe Biden to withhold “recognition” of a new government in Islamabad until a transparent and credible investigation is conducted.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) won 17 seats. In a joint letter to President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the lawmakers expressed concerns about “pre-and post-poll rigging in Pakistan’s recent parliamentary elections”, urging the US Congress to “withhold recognition of a new government in Pakistan until a thorough, transparent, and credible investigation of election interference has been conducted”.

Islamabad is a long-standing ally of Washington and it is in the interest of the US to ensure that democracy thrives in Pakistan and that election results reflect the interests of the Pakistani people, not the interests of the Pakistani elite and military, the letter sent on Wednesday said.

Since the election resulted in a hung Parliament, the PML-N and the PPP have struck a…

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