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US focused on 'ensuring, supporting' transparent elections in Pakistan: State Dept

US focused on ‘ensuring, supporting’ transparent elections in Pakistan: State Dept

طوبیٰ Tooba 8 months ago 0 1

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US State Department’s Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel during a media briefing in Washington DC. — YouTube/State Department
US State Department’s Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel during a media briefing in Washington DC. — YouTube/State Department
  • US wants elections that would benefit Pakistani people. 
  • Says it does not have assessment of candidates or political party.
  • ECP has announced elections to be held in country on February 8. 

WASHINGTON: The US Department of State on Tuesday said that they are focused on “ensuring and supporting” that free and fair elections are held in Pakistan in a manner that would benefit the people.

US State Department’s Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel passed the remarks while responding to a question regarding elections in Pakistan and the doubts over Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairperson Imran Khan’s participation in the polls.

On Imran Khan, Patel said that he did not have “an assessment on the makeup of candidates or the representation of any specific political party”.

“That is for the people of Pakistan to decide. Our focus continues to be on ensuring and supporting that there are free and fair elections that are conducted in a way for the benefit of the Pakistani people,” said the State Department.

Last week, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), pursuant to the directions of the Supreme Court, announced that general elections would be held on February 8, 2024 — ending months of ambiguity surrounding the poll date.

The top electoral body announced the election date after consulting with President Arif Alvi following orders from a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa which was hearing multiple pleas seeking timely elections within 90 days.

Before this, the country was gripped in political uncertainty ever since the Imran Khan government was removed through a no-confidence motion in April 2022.

The Shehbaz Sharif-led government, that took over from Khan, dissolved the National Assembly on August 9, while Sindh and Balochistan assemblies were also prematurely dissolved to allow the electoral authority to hold elections in the country within 90 days.

Had the assemblies been dissolved on time, the electoral body was constitutionally bound to hold polls in 60 days.

However, the ECP decided against holding polls within the stipulated time as the Council of Common Interest (CCI), days before the dissolution of the assemblies, approved the 7th Population and Housing Census 2023.

The CCI approval made it mandatory for the commission to hold elections following fresh delimitations in light of the results of the census.

Subsequently, on August 17, the ECP announced the schedule of new delimitations to be carried out as per the new census results.

But in September, the commission announced that general elections in the country would take place in the last week of January 2024.

In the same month, the ECP also released the provisional report on the delimitation of constituencies. However, before the announcement, multiple petitions were filed in the Supreme Court against the delay in polls.

All the petitioners had asked the apex court to ensure that polls are held within 90 days.

These petitions were filed during the tenure of former chief justice Umar Ata Bandial, however, they were not fixed for a hearing.

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