ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Saturday expressed surprise over the negative tone in statements by certain countries, demanding a probe into fraud and interference in polls, saying Pakistan is committed to working towards building a vibrant democratic polity.

“We have taken note of statements from certain countries and organizations on the general elections held in Pakistan on 8 February 2024,” Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said while reacting to these statements.

“We are surprised by the negative tone of some of these statements, which neither take into account the complexity of the electoral process nor acknowledge the free and enthusiastic exercise of the right to vote by tens of millions of Pakistanis,” she added.

Her statement comes a day after certain countries including the US, the UK, the European Union (EU), Australia, and other international organisations questioned the credibility of the country’s Friday general polls and urged probe into the claims of “restrictions, fraud and interference” in the general elections.

Pakistan committed to inclusive democratic process: FO

“These statements ignore the undeniable fact that Pakistan has held general elections, peacefully and successfully, while dealing with serious security threats resulting primarily from foreign-sponsored terrorism,” Baloch further responded. She said that some statements are not even factual. “There was no nationwide internet shutdown. Only mobile services were suspended for the day to avoid terrorist incidents on the polling day.

The elections exercise has demonstrated that the concerns of many commentators were misplaced,“ she said. She added that Pakistan held the elections as part of its commitment to building a stable and democratic society.

“While we value constructive advice from our friends, making negative commentary even before the completion of electoral process is neither constructive nor objective,” she said. Baloch further stated that Pakistan will continue to work towards building a vibrant democratic polity. “Every election and peaceful transition of power brings us closer to that goal. We do this not on account of the concerns expressed by others but because that is the aspiration of our people and the vision of our founding fathers,” she added.

A day earlier, the United States and the UK were among other countries to raise questions on the credibility of the elections. “We condemn electoral violence, restrictions on the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including attacks on media workers, and restrictions on access to the Internet and telecommunication services, and are concerned about allegations of interference in the electoral process. Claims of interference or fraud should be fully investigated,” said British Foreign Secretary Cameron in a statement.

“We recognise serious concerns raised about the fairness and lack of inclusivity of the elections.

We regret that not all parties were formally permitted to contest the elections and that legal processes were used to prevent some political leaders from participation, and to prevent the use of recognisable party symbols,“ he said.

“We also note the restrictions imposed on internet access on polling day, significant delays to the reporting of results and claims of irregularities in the counting process,” Cameron further said. He added that the UK urges authorities in Pakistan to uphold fundamental human rights including free access to information, and the rule of law.

This includes the right to a fair trial, through adherence to due process and an independent and transparent judicial system, free from interference, he added.

In a statement, the US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said: “We join credible international and local election observers in their assessment that these elections included undue restrictions on freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly”.

The EU’s Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Peter Stano, said in a statement: “We regret the lack of a level playing field due to the inability of some political actors to contest the elections, restrictions to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression both online and offline, restrictions of access to the internet, as well as allegations of severe interference in the electoral process, including arrests of political activists.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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Aamir Feb 11, 2024 09:08am
Is the FO blind? They can see the rigging sitting outside Pakistan and our FO sees no issues? Another institution that will lose respect by such statements
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KU Feb 11, 2024 12:02pm
Commiserations for FO, like other ministries they too are disconnected with ground reality and unsuccessfully putting up a brave face. Pathetic state of affairs, as always.
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Hamid Feb 11, 2024 03:23pm
When u blatantly rigged elections be it pre poll rigging and then post poll rigging, obviously the world will show you mirror to ur ugly face.
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