US lawmakers urge Biden, Blinken not to recognise new Pakistan govt

By REUTERS
March 02, 2024
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) and US President Joe Biden. — AFP/File

WASHINGTON: As many as 31 members of the US Congress have signed a letter to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging them to not recognise new Pakistan government until an investigation into the allegations of election rigging has been conducted.

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Voters in Pakistan went to the polls earlier this month, marred by a mobile internet shutdown and unusually delayed results leading to accusations that the vote was rigged.

The United States, Britain and the European Union have expressed concerns about the reported election irregularities and urged a probe. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) agreed to form a coalition government even as candidates backed by jailed former prime minister Imran Khan gained the most seats.

Khan-backed candidates won 93 seats, but did not have the numbers to form a government. He and his party rejected the results of the elections, alleging widespread rigging.

The letter urged Biden and Blinken to withhold recognition of a new government in Pakistan until a thorough, transparent, and credible investigation into the election interference has been conducted.

It asked them to “urge the Pakistani authorities to release anyone who has been detained for engaging in political speech or activity, and task State Department officials in Pakistan with gathering information about such cases and advocating for their release”.

The letter also urged Biden and Blinken to make clear to Pakistani authorities that Washington could use the leverage for military and other cooperation to be halted, if relevant steps were not taken.

The letter signed by 31 Democratic members of the US House of Representatives was led by Representatives Greg Casar and Susan Wild.

The signatories included representatives Pramila Jayapal, Rashida Tlaib, Ro Khanna, Jamie Raskin, Ilhan Omar, Cori Bush and Barbara Lee.

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