US and UK Raise Serious Concerns Over Transparency of General Elections in Pakistan

The United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) have voiced concerns regarding the rigging allegations surrounding the February 8 General Elections in Pakistan.

In an official statement, the US State Department noted, “Millions of Pakistanis made their voices heard by voting in Pakistan’s elections on February 8, with record numbers of Pakistani women, members of religious and ethnic minority groups, and youth registered. We commend Pakistani poll workers, civil society, journalists and election observers for their work to protect and uphold Pakistan’s democratic and electoral institutions. We now look forward to timely, complete results that reflect the will of the Pakistani people.”

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. We condemn electoral violence, restrictions on exercising human rights and fundamental freedoms, including attacks on media workers, and restrictions on access to the Internet and telecommunication services. We are concerned about allegations of interference in the electoral process. Claims of interference or fraud should be fully investigated.

“The United States is prepared to work with the next Pakistani government, regardless of political party, to advance our shared interests. We look forward to bolstering our partnership by supporting Pakistan’s economy through trade and investment. We will continue to support Pakistan strengthening its democratic institutions, engage through the U.S.-Pakistan Green Alliance Framework, broaden people-to-people ties, and promote human rights including freedom of expression. We are also committed to strengthening our security cooperation and creating an environment of safety and security that affords the Pakistani people the peace, democracy, and progress they deserve.”

In an official statement, the UK’s Foreign Secretary said, “The UK and Pakistan enjoy a close and long-standing relationship, underpinned by strong links between our people. Following yesterday’s elections, we commend all those who voted.”

We recognize serious concerns about the elections’ fairness and lack of inclusivity. We regret that not all parties were formally permitted to contest the elections. Legal processes were used to prevent some political leaders from participating and to prevent the use of recognizable party symbols. We also note the restrictions on internet access on polling day, significant delays in reporting results, and claims of irregularities in the counting process.

“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.”

“The election of a civilian government with the mandate to deliver crucial reforms is essential for Pakistan to flourish. The new government must be accountable to the people it serves, and work to represent the interests of all Pakistan’s citizens and communities with equity and justice. We look forward to working with Pakistan’s next government to achieve this, and across the range of our shared interests.”

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