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US envoy meets Pakistan's top diplomat after US Congress resolution calling for election rigging investigation 

US envoy meets Pakistan's top diplomat after US Congress resolution calling for election rigging investigation 

By The South Asia Times

 

ISLAMABAD - The US ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome on Friday met with Pakistan Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar after the US Congress passed a resolution calling for an independent investigation of alleged rigging in the February 8 elections in the South Asian country. 

 

In a short statement, the country’s Foreign Ministry said that Dar received Blome in his office today. 

 

“The two sides reviewed the latest developments in bilateral relations and discussed ways to move the relationship forward,” said the ministry.

 

However, the Foreign Ministry didn’t share further details with the media about what Ambassador Blome conveyed to Dar after the US Congress's big move to pass the resolution with an overwhelming majority of over 85% members. 

 

It’s believed that Ambassador Blome may be conveyed the Washington message for free, fair and independent investigation of alleged rigging in general elections of Pakistan.

 

The country’s major opposition party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, PTI, and other opposition parties have already accused the Election Commission of Pakistan of having changed the results, defeated nearly 100 candidates of  PTI, who won the election according to form 45, however, the commission rejected the allegations.

 

Now, the US Congress passed a resolution on Tuesday with 368 in favor and only 7 against, and demanded for free, fair, and independent investigation of Pakistani elections. 

 

The US lawmakers also condemned “attempts to suppress the people of Pakistan's participation in their democracy, including through harassment, intimidation, violence, arbitrary detention, restrictions on access to the internet and telecommunications or any violation of their human, civil, or political rights.”

During the election process, it was observed that Pakistani authorities including the election officers didn’t allow the PTI candidates to run their election campaign and created hurdles in submitting nomination papers.

 

PTI leaders now calling the current Shehbaz Sharif’s government is “form 47 government”, referring to a government brought into power through bogus results. 

The US Congress move spread panic among the ruling alliance and on Thursday Dar warned they would also pass a resolution from the Pakistani parliament to counter the US move but PTI opposed supporting such a resolution. 

On Friday, Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Baloch expressed anger over the US resolution and called it “interference in Pakistan's internal affairs.” 

“We deeply regret the Resolution 901 adopted by the House of Representatives of the United States. The resolution clearly stems from an inadequate and erroneous understanding of the political and electoral processes of Pakistan. It is also an unsolicited interference in Pakistan’s domestic affairs,” she told reporters in Islamabad.

 

“We believe that bilateral relations between countries should be based on mutual respect and sovereign equality. The unsolicited interference from the US Congress is therefore neither welcome nor acceptable,” she added.

However, analysts believe that the US Congress move has put the Pakistani government in trouble as in case of independent investigation, the ruling alliance could lose dozens of national assembly seats.

“The ruling alliance will never want an independent investigation as they could lose dozens of seats of the National Assembly. Many MPs won through form 47 but they couldn’t provide form 45, the initial results of polling stations in the courts,” Zahid Shah, a political analyst said. 

An independent investigation could pave the way for Imran Khan’s party to regain their losing seats and they can even take the government from the current ruling alliance as according to PTI they won over 180 seats in Feb.8 elections, he added.  

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