US questions conduct of Pakistan election, calls for ‘fraud’ probe


The United States on Friday called into question the “undue restrictions” put in place during Pakistan’s electoral process and expressed concern about allegations of vote-rigging, but pledged to work with whoever forms the next government.

Candidates loyal to jailed former prime minister Imran Khan were ahead as vote counting dragged on following Thursday’s election.

His Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was faring better than expected despite a crackdown targeting the party, but the next government was still likely to be formed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) after a spell of political horse trading.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Washington looked forward to “timely, complete results that reflect the will of the Pakistani people”, as he listed US concerns with the process.

“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,” Miller said in a statement.

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

Miller, however, noted the administration of President Joe Biden was “prepared to work with the next Pakistani government, regardless of political party, to advance our shared interests,” including trade, investment and security