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United States Raises Alarm Over Election Conduct In Pakistan

The United States has issued a stern warning to Pakistan, asserting that bilateral relations could face strain if irregularities in last month’s election are not thoroughly investigated and, if necessary, votes are rerun.

Donald Lu, the principal US diplomat for South Asia, expressed “serious concerns” regarding the conduct of the February 8 election and the persistent disruptions in media and social media platforms, notably the extended suspension of X, previously known as Twitter.

Addressing a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, Lu stressed the significance of democratic processes, stating, “The Election Commission of Pakistan, should it find that these irregularities are substantiated, should rerun elections where there’s been interference.”

Highlighting the longstanding partnership between the two nations spanning 76 years, Lu emphasized the importance of upholding democratic values aligned with Pakistan’s own constitution. He cautioned that any deviation from democratic norms could impede the relationship.

Regarding military relations, Lu clarified that there were no plans for significant new military sales to Pakistan. This statement underscores a shift in dynamics, considering Pakistan’s historical significance as a Cold War ally with a strong military presence in politics, which has often strained ties with the United States.

Leading up to the election, former prime minister Imran Khan, a prominent figure and former cricket star, faced imprisonment and disqualification from running for office. His party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), encountered crackdowns. Despite this, PTI candidates secured a considerable number of seats, leading to a delicate coalition government with Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister.

Imran Khan, who previously served as prime minister until his ousting through a parliamentary vote two years ago, has been vocal in his criticism of the US military. He has even accused the United States of orchestrating his removal.

In response to allegations made by Khan’s supporters, citing a leaked Pakistani diplomatic document alleging Lu’s involvement in undermining Khan’s leadership, Lu vehemently denied the claims. He dismissed them as baseless conspiracy theories, affirming respect for Pakistan’s sovereignty and the democratic process of selecting its leaders.

Lu, a seasoned diplomat, revealed that he and his family have faced death threats in connection with these allegations, emphasizing the seriousness of the situation.

 

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