US says it supports free, transparent elections in Pakistan | Pakistan

Spokesperson for the United States Department of State Heather Nauert remarked that US supports free and transparent elections in Pakistan. Photo: AP/file

WASHINGTON: The United States has said that it supports free and transparent elections in Pakistan.

“The United States supports free, fair, and transparent, accountable elections in Pakistan as we do in other countries around the world,” spokesperson for the US Department of State, Heather Nauert, while addressing reporters at the Department Press Briefing on Tuesday. 

“The United States along with other international partners has supported Pakistan’s implementation of its historic 2017 electoral reforms law.

“My understanding is that this is the first time that law will actually be put into effect for these elections. We hope that the new comprehensive and transparent legal framework facilitates the peaceful transfer of civilian power to a democratically elected government,” she said.

Elections in Pakistan are scheduled to be held on July 25 this year, as the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz completes its five-year term on May 31. 

After this, a caretaker setup headed by interim prime minister Justice (retd) Nasirul Mulk will take over to ensure a transparent and free electoral process. 

When asked about further investigation into the case of an American diplomat who was recently involved in a traffic accident in Islamabad, the spokesperson shared: “I don’t have any updates to provide beyond what we’ve provided already.”

Reciprocal restrictions on US diplomats

In recent times, the relations between Pakistan and the US have been bumpy, with top government and military officials from both states exchanging comments and visits to smooth out the differences.

Last month, the Trump administration communicated to the Pakistani government that its officials working in the US could face restrictions in their travel if similar limitations on American diplomats in Pakistan are not eased up.

Pakistan responded in kind to US travel restrictions on its diplomatic staff and their families on May 11. 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs said American diplomats will also have to take prior permission to travel — something which was earlier done only in special cases —, will not be afforded the luxury of ‘fast-track’ luggage clearance at airports, will not be allowed to have more than one passport and will stay in the country strictly as per their visa date.

On May 24, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that the US officials in Pakistan were “not being treated well by the Pakistani government”.

While presenting his testimony before the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Pompeo said: “My officers, our state department officers are being treated badly as well, folks working in the embassies and councils [and] in other places are not being treated well by the Pakistani government either.”

He remarked that this was a “real problem” that needed resolving.