The US asked Pakistan to hold free, fair and timely elections, and to respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, as uncertainty grew over the date of conducting the polls in the cash-strapped country.
IMAGE: Imran Khan’s supporters celebrate in Peshawar after Pakistan’s supreme court ruled that his arrest was illegal, May 11, 2023. Photograph: Fayaz Aziz/Reuters
The remarks by US state department spokesperson Mathew Miller came in response to a question on President Arif Alvi’s letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan in which he suggested that polls should be held no later than November 6.
Pakistan’s National Assembly was dissolved on August 9.
The elections in the country should be held within the stipulated time of 90 days after the dissolution of the National Assembly.
Alvi appointed Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar as caretaker prime minister in mid-August to run the country until fresh elections.
However, the ECP decided to conduct a fresh delimitation of Constituencies on the basis of the new census, delaying the general elections.
“As we do with countries around the world, we urge Pakistan to hold free, fair and timely elections, and to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law,” Miller stated.
He also urged Pakistani authorities to “move forward with the electoral process in a manner consistent with Pakistan’s laws”.
Alvi’s missive was the fourth such letter written by the president to Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja regarding elections in the country.
In previous letters, the president had suggested dates for elections to the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
ECP had last month assured the political parties that the general elections would be held by January end or mid-February, allaying fears about the fate of the polls in the cash-strapped nation.
When asked about Pak-US ties, Miller said: “Pakistan is an important partner, and we greatly value the relationship between our countries — both between our two governments and the people-to-people connections.
He was also asked about the tensions at the Torkham border between Pakistan and Afghanistan which started last week after a gun battle erupted between the two border forces.
“Obviously, we would encourage those two governments to work together to resolve that issue,” Miller said.