Home Latest News U.S. Lawmakers Call for Probe into Alleged Rigging Before Recognizing New Pakistan Govt

U.S. Lawmakers Call for Probe into Alleged Rigging Before Recognizing New Pakistan Govt

Letter signed by 31 Congressmen also seeks release of anyone detained for political speeches, activities

by Staff Report

File photo of U.S. President Joe Biden. UN Photo—Cia Pak

A group of U.S. Congressmen on Wednesday urged President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to withhold the recognition of a new government in Pakistan until the conduct of a transparent investigation into allegations of rigging during the Feb. 8 polls.

Signed by 31 members of the 435-member House—all Democrats—the joint letter expresses concern about alleged pre- and post-poll rigging. “We appreciate the steps your administration has already taken to draw attention to interference in these elections,” it states, adding the signatories joined the administration in “condemn[ing] electoral violence, restrictions on the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including attacks on media workers and restrictions on access to the Internet and telecommunication services.”

Apart from withholding recognition of the new government, the lawmakers have also called on Biden and Blinken to urge the Pakistani government to release anyone detained for making political speeches or activities and task the State Department to advocate for their release; and “make clear to Pakistani authorities that U.S. law provides for accountability for acts that violate human rights, undermine democracy, or further corruption, including the potential for military and other cooperation to be halted.”

The lawmakers also brought attention to concerns about pre-poll rigging, including the sentencing of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan; post-poll rigging, such as delays in reporting results; video evidence of abuses; and discrepancies in vote totals. They cited reports of nonpartisan observers calling for a transparent and credible audit process to verify the outcome of the elections.

“Given the strong evidence of pre- and post-poll rigging, we urge you to wait until a thorough, transparent, and credible investigation has been conducted before recognizing a new Pakistani government. Without taking this necessary step, you risk enabling anti-democratic behavior by Pakistani authorities and could undermine the democratic will of the Pakistani people,” it states. It also maintained that it is in the U.S. interest to ensure that democracy thrives in Pakistan and that election results reflect the interests of the Pakistani people, “not the interests of the Pakistani elite and military.”

In a separate statement, Congressman Greg Casar said the U.S. must hold its allies to a high standard. “We should not recognize a result until a credible, independent investigation has been completed. Democracy and the will of the people must prevail,” he added.

Similarly, Congresswoman Susan Wild, another signatory, said the U.S. must remain steadfast in its commitment to preserve the highest standard of democracy at home and abroad. “The next government of Pakistan must be a reflection of what the people of Pakistan genuinely voted for. Now is the time for the United States and the international community to state unequivocally that we stand in solidarity with the people of Pakistan and will not participate in efforts to subvert the country’s democracy,” she added.

Apart from Casar and Wild, the letter was signed by Donald Beyer; Jamaal Bowman; Cori Bush; André Carson; Judy Chu; Yvette Clarke; Madeleine Dean; Lloyd Doggett; Veronica Escobar; Jesús “Chuy” García; Eleanor Holmes Norton; Steven Horsford; Pramila Jayapal; Hank Johnson; Ro Khanna; Raja Krishnamoorthi; Greg Landsman; Barbara Lee; Summer Lee; Jim McGovern; Ilhan Omar; Frank Pallone; Jamie Raskin; Jan Schakowsky; Rashida Tlaib; David Trone; Marc Veasey; Nydia Velázquez; and Bonnie Watson Coleman.

The statement said the letter was endorsed by the Center for Economic and Policy Research; Community Alliance for Peace and Justice; First Pakistan Global; Global Peace Seekers; Just Foreign Policy; MPower Change Action Fund; Now or Never; and the Save Pakistan coalition.

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