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Monday March 04, 2024

US MPs ask Biden admin not to recognise Pak poll results

Pakistani American Political Action Committee also called on Biden administration and Congress to investigate alleged election irregularities in Pakistan

February 11, 2024
US President Joe Biden addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters. — AFP/File
US President Joe Biden addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters. — AFP/File

WASHINGTON: Several US lawmakers, from both sides of the aisle, have urged the Biden administration not to recognise election results in Pakistan until alleged irregularities are investigated.

“Claims of interference or fraud should be fully investigated,” the US State Department’s spokesperson said in a statement on Friday, expressing concerns about the allegations of interference in the electoral process. “We join credible international and local election observers in their assessment that these elections included undue restrictions on freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” the statement said.

“Given the recent strong statements by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, Ranking Member Gregory Meeks and other prominent lawmakers in support of Pakistani democracy, we urge the Biden Administration and Congress to look into strong concerns of vote counting irregularities and ballot tampering,” the committee’s chairman stated.

A senior member of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Brad Sherman, said, “Press organisations in Pakistan should be free to report vote tabulations and there should be no unwarranted delay in announcing results.” Along with that Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib stated, “We must stand with the Pakistani people as their democracy is at serious risk. They should be able to elect their leaders without interference and tampering with the process and the US must ensure our tax dollars don’t go to anyone undermining that.”

Congresswoman Dina Titus said that she was closely monitoring the situation on the ground urging officials to adhere to the rule of law. “Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of a functioning democracy,” she stated, condemning the use of political violence and restriction on freedoms of expression in Pakistan.

Likewise, Congresswoman Ilhasn Omar called on the Department of State to “refrain from recognising the results until credible, independent investigations” are conducted into the numerous allegations of misconduct. “I am deeply troubled by reports of interference in this week’s election in Pakistan. The legitimacy of any incoming government rests on fair elections, free of manipulation, intimidation, or fraud. The Pakistani people deserve nothing less than a transparent democratic process and true representative government,” she said.

“I echo the State Department’s call for an investigation of election interference and fraud in Pakistan. The US should ensure that a credible, independent investigation is completed before recognising a result. We must protect democracy and the will of the people,” Congressman Greg Casar posted on X.

Congresswomen Summer Lee and Susan Wild voiced the same. “In this era of backsliding democracies, the US must make it clear that we stand with the Pakistani people and will not let their voices be erased by state violence, targeted network outages, and voter suppression,” Rep Lee stated, while Rep Wild said, “I echo the @StateDept call for a full investigation of election interference and fraud in Pakistan. Now is the time for the international community to stand on the side of the people of Pakistan. We cannot recognise a new government until it is clear that democracy has prevailed.”

Meanwhile, the Pakistani American Political Action Committee (PAKPAC) also called on the Biden administration and Congress to investigate alleged election irregularities in Pakistan. In a statement issued Friday, the group announced that it has secured 75 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives for a resolution that affirms strong support for democracy in Pakistan, including free and fair elections, and condemns attempts to suppress people’s participation in the process. The bipartisan resolution was introduced by Congressmen Richard McCormick, Republican, and Dan Kildee, a Democrat, and urges Pakistani authorities to uphold democratic institutions, human rights and the rule of law.

Meanwhile, Australia while noting the initial results of Pakistan’s general elections held on Feb 8, 2024 said, as a friend of Pakistan, Australia has consistently called for a free, fair, inclusive and credible election process -- in line with Pakistan’s Constitution and its international obligations, says Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on social media site X. “We express our condolences for the loss of life incurred by terrorist attacks in the lead-up to and during elections. “Australia welcomes the increase in the number of women registered to vote and the fact that millions of Pakistanis chose to vote. “It is regrettable, however, that the Pakistani people were restricted in their choice, since not all political parties were allowed to contest these elections.”

“Australia supports a democratic, stable and prosperous Pakistan which upholds its commitments to democratic principles including human rights, media freedoms, freedom of expression and freedom of association.

“As a long-standing partner we look forward to working with Pakistan towards a shared vision of an open, stable, prosperous and inclusive region.”