The U.S. State Department on Monday said it is monitoring Pakistan’s electoral process “quite closely,” noting it has “concerns” over certain rights infringements that have occurred in the lead-up to the Feb. 8 general elections.
Responding to a query on the “fairness” of the electoral process during a regular press briefing, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel stressed Washington wanted to see the process occur in a manner that facilitated broad participation with respect for freedom of expression, assembly, and associations.
“We have concerns of the—all incidents of violence and restrictions on media freedom; freedom of expression, including internet freedom; and peaceful and—peaceful assembly and association,” he said, adding the U.S. was “concerned” by “some of the infringements” that were witnessed in this space.
“Pakistanis deserve to exercise their fundamental right to choose their future leaders through free and fair elections without fear, violence, or intimidation, and it is ultimately for the people of Pakistan to decide their political future,” he added.
Over the past few months, the U.S. has been repeatedly questioned on Pakistan’s upcoming elections, with Washington maintaining it has no favorites in the race and it is up to the people of Pakistan to decide who they wish to form their next government.
Last week, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad issued a travel advisory for its citizens in Pakistan, warning them to remain vigilant and aware of the locations of political rallies in any areas they intended to visit.
“On Feb. 8, election day, areas around polling stations may be crowded, and U.S. citizens not eligible to participate in Pakistan’s elections should avoid them,” it said, warning that disruptions to internet and cellular service could occur leading up to and throughout election day and immediately following the electoral exercise.