- State Department Comment on Pakistan Election.
- “We support the rule of law,” says the spokesperson.
- America says it is capable of conducting operations in Afghanistan.
Washington: The State Department on Thursday said the US supports the “peaceful upholding of fundamental democratic principles such as free media, free speech, free assembly” in Pakistan and around the world.
The comments from State Department spokesman Matthew Miller came during a routine briefing on Thursday when his attention was drawn to elections due later this year.
“The stakes are huge on the coming election and experts are of the view that elections in Pakistan [are] Not likely to be free and fair. How does the United States promote and support the principles of free and fair elections in Pakistan?” he was asked.
In response, Miller said: “I will be clear that we support the peaceful exercise of fundamental democratic principles such as free media, free speech, free assembly. We support the rule of law not only in Pakistan but across the world. These principles are the foundation of democratic elections.”
The government has indicated to dissolve the National Assembly before the end of its constitutional term on August 12, with consultations underway with coalition partners on a caretaker setup.
Zafar Iqbal, Special Secretary, Election Commission of Pakistan, has said that if the NA is dissolved after completing its term, the ECP will hold elections before October 11.
Regarding terrorist incidents in Pakistan and the Taliban government’s role in preventing terrorists from using Afghan soil, Miller said Kabul’s rulers would be held accountable for their commitments to the international community.
“But as we have said before, we remain — we retain the ability to conduct our own operations in the region to ensure that regardless of any promises made by the Taliban and regardless of their relative ability or willingness to keep them, we retain the right to defend American interests,” he said.
Pakistan has witnessed an increase in terrorist attacks after the Afghan Taliban returned to power in August 2021 and called on the interim rulers to take decisive action against terrorists including the TTP responsible for cross-border attacks.
A statistical report released by independent think tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) revealed that terrorist activities in the country have increased by 79% during the first half of 2023.
In two days – from 18 to 20 July – four terrorist attacks rocked Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, leaving six law enforcers dead and several others injured.
rights of minorities
On a question about the rights of minorities in Pakistan, the US official said that they “support the free practice of religion anywhere in the world and oppose any attempt or use of violence to suppress people’s right to freedom of religion.”
The journalist who asked the question referred to reports that a 150-year-old Hindu temple in Karachi, the city of lights, had been demolished.
Local officials have denied the reports, with Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab saying that “no such demolition of the temple has taken place and the temple is still intact”.
However, attacks on Hindu temples in Pakistan are a very grim reality.
A gang of robbers recently fired mortar shells at Gulshan Dera Baba Sanwal Shah, a temple of Baghariji minority community near Ghauspur in Kashmore district.
Sindh’s Minority Affairs Minister Gianchand Esrani then urged the dacoits in the riverine region of the province not to harm their Hindu community who have been living peacefully in the region for the past several centuries.