The U.S. State Department on Thursday stressed that it is up to the Pakistani people to decide their country’s future leadership, adding Washington cannot dictate the specifics of how Pakistan conducts its elections.
In a regular press briefing, spokesperson Matthew Miller said Washington’s interest was solely in the democratic process. “We want to see free and fair elections, which are conducted in accordance with Pakistan’s laws, and we don’t support one candidate or party over another in Pakistan or anywhere else in the world,” he said.
“It’s not for the United States to dictate to Pakistan how it conducts—the exact specifics of how it conducts its election, but to make clear that we want to see those elections conducted in a free, fair, and peaceful manner that includes freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and ultimately a full, open, reliable, vibrant democratic process,” he said to a query on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan’s incarceration and alleged “abductions” of potential candidates seeking to submit their nomination forms.
“We will continue to support democratic expression and a vibrant democracy in Pakistan,” he added.
To another question on Khan alleging—in an essay published by The Economist—the U.S. had sought Khan’s ouster as prime minister over his refusal to allow Washington to establish military bases in Pakistan, Miller said these accusations were “baseless.”
In his article, Khan lamented the lack of a level-playing field ahead of the Feb. 8 elections, claiming polls conducted in this scenario would prove a “farce” and only lead to more political instability.