‘Serious concerns’: World reacts to Pakistan polls as vote count continues

Countries including the US and UK called for authorities to investigate reported irregularities in Pakistan’s election.

Supporters of Pakistan’s imprisoned Former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party block a road in protest against the delay of parliamentary election results, in Peshawar, Pakistan [Muhammad Sajjad/AP Photo]Published On 9 Feb 20249 Feb 2024

Several countries have called for authorities to investigate reported irregularities in Pakistan’s general elections as vote counting is under way.

Results started to trickle in nearly 12 hours after polling for national and provincial assemblies ended on Thursday.

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Independent candidates affiliated with imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), are taking a narrow lead.

Polls were marred by violence by armed groups and a widely criticised suspension of mobile phone services that prompted accusations of “political engineering”.

The army said about 12 people were killed and 39 wounded nationwide during attacks aimed at disrupting the vote.

Here are some global reactions to events so far:

United States

The US Department of State has said it is looking forward to “timely, complete election results” from Pakistan reflecting the will of its people.

“The United States is prepared to work with the next Pakistani government, regardless of political party, to advance our shared interests,” it said in a statement.

“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,” it added.

“We condemn electoral violence … and are concerned about allegations of interference in the electoral process. Claims of interference or fraud should be fully investigated.”

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom voiced “serious concerns raised about the fairness and lack of inclusivity of the elections”.

In a statement, UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said “not all parties” were able to formally contest the election and that “legal processes” were used to prevent some political leaders from participating.

He also noted restrictions to internet access, as well as delays and irregularities in reporting.

“The UK urges authorities in Pakistan to uphold fundamental human rights including free access to information, and the rule of law,” Cameron said.

“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,” he added.

European Union

The European Union has praised the continued “commitment to democracy” by the people of Pakistan.

Still, the bloc said, “We regret the lack of a level playing field due to the inability of some political actors to contest the elections, restrictions to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression both online and offline, restrictions of access to the internet, as well as allegations of severe interference in the electoral process, including arrests of political activists.”

The EU called on authorities to “ensure a timely and full investigation of all reported election irregularities”.

Iran

“Iran’s FM Spokesman congratulated Pakistan’s government & people on successfully holding their parliamentary elections, saying it shows the solid place of democracy in the country,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry posted on the social media platform X.

It added that Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani “wished the brotherly, friendly and neighbourly country of Pakistan increasing prosperity”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies