Thursday May 30, 2024

Donald Lu called to testify on fairness of Pakistan's Feb 8 polls

Hearing will be convened by subcommittee on Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia on March 20

By Wajid Ali Syed
March 15, 2024
US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu — X/file
US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu — X/file 

WASHINGTON: The US Congress is set to hold a hearing on the fairness of Pakistan's February 8 general elections during which Assistant Secretary of the US Department of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Donald Lu, will testify. 

Lu's testimony in the hearing, which will take place on March 20, will be significant due to his alleged involvement in the toppling of Imran Khan's government in 2022. 

The hearing named "Pakistan After the Elections: Examining the Future of Democracy in Pakistan and the US-Pakistan Relationship” will be convened by the subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia.

During a press briefing on Thursday, State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller responded to a question, saying that any number of State Department officials testify all the time before Congress.

"We see it as an important part of our jobs to help Congress do its job, both from a policymaking perspective and from an oversight perspective," said Miller.

The spokesperson said that the State Department always looks forward to both the informal and formal conversations with Congress and the actual testimony officials provide.

The hearing comes after political parties in Pakistan including PTI, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) alleged that the elections held on February 8 were rigged with the Imran Khan-founded claiming that their mandate was stolen.

Since the February 8 polls, PTI has been protesting and holding demonstrations to reclaim their mandate from the now-ruling government.

The results of the election were surprising as not a single party secured a majority to form a government and at least 90 independent candidates supported by the PTI won the elections. They later joined the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) to claim the seats reserved for female candidates and minorities.

When asked about Lu's alleged involvement in the cipher controversy and his security concerns, Miller said that the accusations against him are "false". 

"They’ve always been false. You’ve heard me say that more than once, more than twice, more than ten times probably," he said, adding that the State Department takes threats towards US officials seriously and condemn any effort to threaten the safety and security of the diplomats.