No outside dictation on election probe: FO

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Spokesperson says Pakistan believes in its ‘sovereign right’ to make decisions about its internal matters
ISLAMABAD
The Foreign Office (FO) on Friday said that no country could give directions to Pakistan to investigate allegations of rigging in the February 8 elections, insisting the country believes in its “sovereign right” to make decisions about its internal matters.
“Pakistan is a vibrant democracy and there are mechanisms in place inside Pakistan where Pakistani people can resolve any issue pertaining to questions relating to elections or any issue relating to the democratic process in Pakistan,” remarked FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch at the weekly briefing in Islamabad.
She was responding to a question about the US government’s repeated statements, asking Pakistan to probe into the ballot fraud. “I believe no country can give directions to Pakistan. Pakistan is an independent and sovereign country. We believe in our own sovereign right to make decisions about Pakistan’s internal affairs,” she added.
Besides the US government’s reaction, a number of US congressmen wrote a letter to the Biden administration, urging the White House not to recognize the new government in Pakistan till election fraud allegations are probed.
“Yes, we understand that such a letter has been sent by some Congressmen to the US Secretary of State. This is a communication between public officials in the United States and is not addressed to the Government of Pakistan. We, therefore, have no comments to offer on such letters,” the spokesperson said.
Mumtaz also declined to comment on the letter written by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), requesting the Washington-based lender to negotiate only with a legitimate government.
On the arrest of four individuals believed to be Pakistanis for allegedly transporting weapons to Yemen from Iran, the spokesperson said that Pakistan was in contact with the US authorities.
“We have seen the press release issued by the US Department of Justice indicating the said charges. We are in touch with the US Embassy in Islamabad and our mission in Washington to ascertain more facts regarding the incident and to provide consular access to the individuals following confirmation of their nationality,” she added.
The suspects were detained on January 11 in an operation conducted by the US Navy Seals off the coast of Somalia in the Arabian Sea. The main suspect identified as Muhammad Pehlwan was charged with transporting weapons to the Houthis in Yemen. The other three were accused of giving false information.
The spokesperson said that there were no bases for speculative reports that certain countries had already conveyed their concerns to Pakistan over its move to start work on the long-delayed multibillion-dollar Iran gas pipeline project.
She confirmed that the Cabinet Committee on Energy has already made a decision regarding the Iran-Pakistan pipeline.
“Pakistan considers the Iran-Pakistan pipeline project as an important project that symbolises friendship between the two countries. Ensuring energy security remains a top priority for the government of Pakistan and the Iran-Pakistan pipeline, among other projects, forms an important component of Pakistan’s future energy mix,” she explained.
She said the Cabinet Committee on Energy had approved the recommendations to resume work on the 80-kilometre section of the pipeline, which was inside Pakistani territory.
“And this is the latest development that I can share with you. I have seen certain media reports yesterday and I do not understand the basis of those reports so I would not like to comment on speculative reporting,” she said.