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WASHINGTON: A US diplomat urged Pakistan on Wednesday to investigate reported irregularities with last month’s general election and re-run the vote in affected constituencies if it found credible evidence of interference.

“The Election Commission of Pakistan, should it find that these irregularities are substantiated, should re-run elections (in constituencies) where there has been interference,” Donald Lu, the State Department’s top official for South and Central Asia, told a congressional panel.

Pakistan’s election was marred by allegations of rigging, an internet shutdown on election day and unusually delayed results.

Lu submits written testimony in US Congress: ‘Despite complaints Pakistan polls were as per law’

Shehbaz Sharif became prime minister on March 4, heading a coalition after his party won fewer seats than candidates backed by jailed former premier Imran Khan.

“We have never used the term ‘free and fair’ in the characterisation of this election,” Lu testified to a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee examining Pakistan’s democracy and its relations with the US

“We have expressed serious concerns about the pre-election environment: violence that occurred - terrorism and political violence,” he said.

“We have expressed concern about the failure to register individual candidates and political parties, the mass arrests of those in opposition, the shutdown of internet, and censorship and pressure placed on journalists.”

Britain and the European Union have also expressed concern about reported irregularities and urged a probe.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern about violence and the suspension of mobile communications services.

Responding to questions, Lu denied allegations by Imran Khan that he had interfered in his 2022 removal from power.

“These allegations, this conspiracy theory, is a lie.

“It is a complete falsehood,” Lu said, as some members of the audience shouted protests at his denial.

Lu said he had faced threats over the allegations.

Multiple legal cases were brought against Imran Khan after he was ousted, which disqualified him as a candidate in February’s election and sentenced him to long prison terms.

He denies wrongdoing and remains in jail.

Following Donald Lu’s testimony, Pakistan on Thursday said some statements made at the US congressional hearing reflected “misunderstanding of Pakistan’s domestic situation and electoral laws”.

During the weekly press briefing, Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said Pakistan valued its close relations with the US and believed in constructive engagement with it.

“Pakistan respects the prerogative of legislative bodies to discuss international issues.

“The deliberations of these legislative bodies should contribute to promoting positive dynamics in bilateral ties based on mutual respect and understanding,” she said.

Comments

200 characters
KU Mar 21, 2024 03:10pm
So if the allegations of conspiracy theory is a lie, so is the cypher story. Yet, head over heels urgency on IK trial goes on along with the less talked about polarization of nation, is it deliberate?
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John Khan Mar 21, 2024 03:10pm
The whole world knows the truth about the elections process and its results. Nothing will change ground realities by their pontificating. There is only one power that can change this scenario. Saudia.
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Test Mar 21, 2024 03:11pm
we cannot re run cost process is very high in our country
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Pakistani1 Mar 21, 2024 03:46pm
"Lu denied allegations by Imran Khan that he had interfered in his 2022 removal from power." “These allegations, this conspiracy theory, is a lie.It is a complete falsehood.” Are we done with this?
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HashBrown® Mar 21, 2024 05:14pm
@Pakistani1, Sure, because you can always trust US politicians to speak the truth...right? (:
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Re=== Mar 22, 2024 02:26am
Pakistanis acting as if the US /Lu owe Pak something. IK leaked US-pak state secret cable/cipher to the media. Let that sink in. And you want the US, which IK hates anyway, to defend him. Get real.
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