Pakistan dismisses U.S. warning over ‘election irregularities’

Pakistan’s government on Thursday dismissed a warning from the United States that relations between the two countries would suffer if it did not probe irregularities in last month’s election.

A shaky coalition of two dynastic parties took power in Islamabad following allegations of poll rigging which kept jailed former prime minister Imran Khan from power.

Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the spokeswoman for Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, said the warning from Donald Lu, the top U.S. diplomat for South Asia, “reflects a misunderstanding of Pakistan’s political situation and electoral laws”.

“We hope to engage in political discussion with the United States to address misunderstandings so that our two countries continue to move forward for regional cooperation,” she told reporters in the capital, Islamabad.

Lu told lawmakers on Wednesday that the United States had “serious concerns” about the conduct of the February 8 election and ongoing disruptions of media and social media, including a prolonged shutdown of X, formerly known as Twitter, and called for an investigation.

“The Election Commission of Pakistan, should it find that these irregularities are substantiated, should rerun elections where there’s been interference,” Lu told a hearing of a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee.

“We have enjoyed 76 years of partnership with this country. It will be an impediment to our relationship if Pakistan does not have a democratic process that upholds its own constitution,” Lu said.

Lu said the United States was not considering any major new military sales to Pakistan, a Cold War ally whose army and intelligence apparatus has long played a dominant role in politics and whose past links with Afghanistan’s Taliban soured ties with Washington.

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