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Tuesday May 28, 2024

US interest remains in Pakistan’s democratic process: State Dept

The State Department on Thursday again condemned the election related violence in Pakistan

By Wajid Ali Syed
February 09, 2024
The US Department of State building in Washington. — AFP/file
The US Department of State building in Washington. — AFP/file 

WASHINGTON: The US interest remains in the democratic process and is interested in taking appropriate steps to continue to foster its relationship, “our partnership with the government of Pakistan, whatever it should be,” the State Department has said.

The State Department on Thursday again condemned the election related violence in Pakistan while expressing concerns about the restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression.

“We strongly condemn all instances of election related violence both in the weeks preceding elections as well as those that transpired on the election day. These kinds of election related violence, we believe, affected a broad range of political parties across Pakistan. It impacted polling stations, election officers as well as the election commission,” said the State Department’s Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel.

During the daily press briefing, he reiterated that the US was concerned about the restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression. “We are tracking reports of restriction on internet and cell phone access across Pakistan on polling day and we along with the international community will continue to emphasise the importance of democratic institutions of free press, a vibrant civil society and expanded opportunities for political participation of all of Pakistan’s citizens,” he said.

Responding to a question about what a possible new government could look like and if that might affect the relations, the spokesperson emphasized that the makeup of the government of Pakistan was up for the Pakistani people to decide. “What the United States is interested in is in deepening our partnership and cooperation with the government of Pakistan regardless of what the makeup of the government is, that is not for us to decide. There are a number of areas, which we believe, we have got some strategic shared priorities and we look forward to continuing to work in that space,” he said.

“We are going to continue to monitor the electoral process,” the spokesperson said repeating, “We are not going to get ahead of any official results and we want to see a process that took place in a way that allowed for broad participation, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. There were some clear restrictions of the exercise of freedom that took place, specifically around internet and cell phone use, and those of course are concerning. We have also seen reports of election-based violence in the weeks leading up to this, as well as on election day. Those continue to be concerning, and those we believe have impacted a number of political parties but again I am not gonna get ahead of this. It’s truly up to the people of Pakistan to decide their political future.”