The U.S. State Department on Wednesday reiterated its support for free, fair and timely elections in Pakistan conducted in a manner consistent with the country’s laws.
Responding to a query on President Arif Alvi’s letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan, in which he said general elections should take place no later than Nov. 6, U.S. State Department spokesperson Mathew Miller told a regular press briefing that Washington’s advice for Pakistan was the same as it was for other countries globally.
“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,” he said. “And we urge Pakistani authorities to move forward with the electoral process in a manner consistent with Pakistan’s laws, as we do with countries around the world,” he added.
While Alvi’s letter has noted elections should take place within 90 days of the dissolution of the National Assembly, he has stopped short of issuing any directions, with experts stating the missive holds no legal standing and merely offers “advice” that the ECP has no compulsion to accept. A lawyer for the PTI has, similarly, said Alvi’s letter is an abdication of his constitutional responsibility and could actually weaken the party’s case for timely elections before the Supreme Court.
During the press briefing, Miller was also asked about the state of Pak-U.S. ties over the past year. “Pakistan is an important partner of ours,” said the spokesperson. “And we greatly value the relationship between our countries, both between our two governments and the people-to-people connections,” he added.
To another query on the closure of the Torkham border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan last week, which has stalled trade and left thousands stranded on both sides, Miller added: “We would encourage those two governments to work together to resolve that issue.”