US, EU, Britain voice concern over Pakistan elections
US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the US also had deep reservations over the participation of terrorist-affiliated individuals in the elections.Updated: Jul 28, 2018 22:07 IST
The US and Britain agreed to concerns expressed by the European Union observers on the political climate in which Pakistan’s elections were held.
Michael Gahler, chief of the EU election observer mission, told reporters in Islamabad that his 120-member team found no election rigging. But he quickly added that pressure on the media and stronger-than-usual attempts to encourage candidates to switch parties negatively influenced the vote. “We have concluded there was a lack of equality of opportunity,” he said, calling this year’s electoral process “not as good” as in 2013.
While commending Pakistanis for their “courage” in coming out to vote, the US on Friday said it “concurs” with the EU observers that the polls were “overshadowed by restrictions on freedom of expression and unequal campaign opportunities”.
In a statement issued by state department spokesperson Heather Nauert, the US also said that though it had “deep reservations” about the participation of terrorist-affiliate individuals in the election, it “commends Pakistani voters for fully rejecting” them.
Parties linked to Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and the Sunni extremist group Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat had fought in the polls but did not win a single seat.
The United States also said it shared concerns of Pakistan’s own human rights commission about “flaws in the pre-voting electoral process”, which included, “constraints placed on freedoms of expression and association during the campaign period that were at odds with Pakistani authorities’ stated goal of a fully fair and transparent election”.
In conclusion, it said, “As Pakistan’s elected leaders form a new government, the United States will look for opportunities to work with them to advance our goals of security, stability, and prosperity in South Asia.”
Britain on Friday said it shared concerns expressed by the international observers on reports of pressure on the media and the number of parties with links to proscribed groups who preach violence and intolerance.
Noting that Jinnah’s vision of a tolerant, pluralist Pakistan remained central to a stable and cohesive Pakistani society, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said the election marked an “unprecedented second successive transfer of power from one full-term civilian government to another.”
“I welcome the initial findings from international and domestic observers...Like the election observation missions, we are also concerned about reports of pressure on the media and the number of parties with links to proscribed groups who preach violence and intolerance”, Hunt said.
“It is now for Pakistan’s elected representatives to work together to ensure a successful transition. I hope all sides will resolve any disputed results peacefully and in accordance with Pakistan’s electoral laws”, Hunt added.
The United Kingdom has a large diaspora of Pakistan origin. Imran Khan, expected to be sworn in as the next prime minister of Pakistan, has several family and other links to the UK, having spent years studying at Oxford, and playing county cricket at Sussex.
Hunt added: “The UK and Pakistan enjoy a longstanding partnership, underpinned by strong links between our people. We look forward to continuing our work with the new federal and provincial governments. The people of Pakistan can be certain of UK support to build the democratic, secure and prosperous future they deserve.”
First Published: Jul 28, 2018 11:14 IST