The United States administration has said that claims of interference or fraud during the general elections in Pakistan should be fully investigated.
“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,” Matthew Miller, the US State Department spokesperson, said in a statement on Friday.
Millions of Pakistanis made their voices heard by voting in the polls on February 8, with record numbers of Pakistani women, members of religious and ethnic minority groups, and youth registered.
Elections were held for 265 seats in the national assembly and a political party needs 134 seats for a simple majority.
The provisional results by the Election Commission of Pakistan showed that independent candidates backed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf were leading the race for the National Assembly seats. The PML-N emerged as a single largest party.
Earlier, the European Union in its statement noted a “lack of a level playing field”, attributing that to “the inability of some political actors to contest the elections” and to restrictions to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and internet access.
But polls were held amid incidents of violence in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and suspension of mobile phone services on the polling day.
Miller said: “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.”
The statement said that the administration was prepared to work with the next Pakistani government, regardless of political party, to advance their shared interests. “We look forward to bolstering our partnership by supporting Pakistan’s economy through trade and investment.”
It added that the government would continue to support Pakistan strengthening its democratic institutions, engage through the US-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.”
While Miller acknowledged the efforts of poll workers, civil society, journalists and election observers, he said that the administration looked forward to timely and complete results that “reflect the will of the Pakistani people.”