US Senate committee chair regrets denial of ‘meaningful participation of all parties’


Washington DC
The chair of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has regretted the denial of meaningful participation of all political parties and candidates in the recent general elections in Pakistan.
“While I appreciate those in Pakistan who cast a vote in the electoral process this week, these long overdue elections were sadly overshadowed by actions that prevented the meaningful participation of all political parties and candidates,” Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md) said in a statement issued on Saturday.
“I condemn in the strongest terms the deadly bombings at election campaign offices in Balochistan and send my condolences to the victims and their families. These attacks must be investigated and the perpetrators need to be held accountable,” he added in the statement available on the committee’s website.
Senator Cardin added that as Pakistan’s leaders proceed to form a new government, he will continue engaging on the issues that most directly impact the Pakistani people, from promoting democracy and human rights in the country to addressing challenges related to climate change and sustainable energy.
“I look forward to continuing to find opportunities where the United States and Pakistan can advance our shared goals of security, stability, and prosperity across South Asia,” he added.
A day earlier, Western capitals called into question the “undue restrictions” put in place during the February 8 elections in Pakistan and expressed concern over allegations of vote rigging, but pledged to work with whoever formed the next government.
The United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, in their separate statements, called upon the relevant Pakistani authorities to ensure a timely and full investigation of all the reported irregularities in Thursday’s elections.
FO ‘surprised’ on negative tone
Responding to the criticism, the Foreign Office earlier today said that it was “surprised” by the negative tone of some statements from foreign countries and organisations over the February 8 general elections held in Pakistan.
In a statement, the FO said it had “taken note” of such statements.
“We are surprised by the negative tone of some of these statements, which neither take into account the complexity of the electoral process nor acknowledge the free and enthusiastic exercise of the right to vote by tens of millions of Pakistanis,” said the statement by FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch.
The spokesperson maintained that the statements “ignore” that elections were held in Pakistan peacefully and successfully while mitigating “serious security threats resulting primarily from foreign-sponsored terrorism”.