Home Latest News U.S. Voices Concern over Reports of Media Censorship in Pakistan Ahead of Polls

U.S. Voices Concern over Reports of Media Censorship in Pakistan Ahead of Polls

State department spokesperson stresses Pakistan’s future leadership is for its people to decide

by Staff Report

File photo of U.S. State Department Principal Deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel addressing a press briefing

The United States State Department on Thursday expressed concern over any reports indicating restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of association and the press in Pakistan, stressing this is at odds with the conduct of free and fair elections.

Pakistan is set to conduct its general elections on Feb. 8, amidst concerns of the sidelining of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) following the loss of its electoral symbol. Reports have also emerged about imposed censorship on certain media outlets to curb coverage of the party, which fell out with the country’s military establishment after the May 9 riots that targeted various civil and military assets.

Responding to a question on the upcoming polls during a regular press briefing, State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel stressed that Pakistan’s future leadership was for its people to decide. “Our interest continues to be in the democratic process. We also have not been ambiguous about how we feel very strongly that a free and independent media are vital institutions that undergird healthy democracies by ensuring that an electorate can make informed decisions and hold the government to account,” he said. “We believe journalists play a critical role in covering fair and transparent elections,” he added.

To another question on the upcoming visit of the Iranian foreign minister to Pakistan, the spokesperson said it was for Pakistani authorities and their foreign affairs officials to determine what the visit would entail. “But should any country around the world be interested in continuing to call on Iran to cease its malign and destabilizing activities, its activities that particularly in the Red Sea are making international waterways and legitimate commerce unsafe, we’d welcome any country continuing to press Iran to curb its support for those kinds of actions,” he added.

He also responded to a query on Foreign Secretary Syrus Qazi revealing links of Indian agents to the assassination of Pakistanis on Pakistani soil, saying he was not aware of it. “The Government of Pakistan and the Government of India speak more about this,” he added.

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