The U.S. on Monday urged Pakistani authorities fully investigate all claims of interference and fraud in the Feb. 8 elections through the country’s legal system, adding Washington will monitor the process in the coming days.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued results of the polls several days after its self-imposed deadline of 9 hours, with the unexplained delay raising doubts about the legitimacy and transparency of the elections. Resultantly, several states have called for free and fair probes into the polls and urged Islamabad to respect the will of the people. Thus far, no party has secured sufficient numbers to form the government on its own, with discussions underway between several parties in a bid to secure a coalition to head the country.
“Let me say that we congratulate the Pakistani people, first of all, for participating in the election on Thursday. That includes poll workers, civil society members, journalists, and election observers who have protected Pakistan’s democratic and electoral institutions,” said State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller to questions on the polls.
Noting the U.S. had already publicly, and privately, expressed concerns over some irregularities in the process along with several other countries, he said Washington had also conveyed the need for the Pakistani government to respect the will of the election.
“We emphasize … that we want to see the rule of law, respect for Constitution, free press, vibrant civil society respected in the run-up to the election,” he said. “We condemn political and election-related violence and restrictions on internet and cell phone service. Those negatively impacted the electoral service,” he continued, adding the U.S. wants to see all claims of interference and fraud be “fully investigated by Pakistan’s legal system, and we will be continuing to monitor that in the days ahead.”
To another question on the incoming Pakistani government, Miller noted discussions were ongoing for its formation. “But one of the things that we have said leading up to the election and we’ll continue to make clear is that whoever the Pakistani people choose to represent them, we will work with that government,” he said, reiterating all claims of fraud should be fully investigated.
However, said the spokesperson, “it was clearly a competitive election in which people were able to exercise their choice.” Ultimately though, he said, “we respect the democratic process and we’re ready to work with the government once it’s formed.”
To another question on protests, Miller said the U.S. wants “to see the freedom of assembly respected anywhere in the world.”