Choosing future leaders is for Pakistanis to decide, US envoy tells ECP

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US Ambassador Donald Blome (left) and Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja. — PPI/Radio Pakistan/Files
US Ambassador Donald Blome (left) and Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja. — PPI/Radio Pakistan/Files
  • Remarks come against backdrop of uncertainty surrounding polls.
  • America to back “free and fair” elections, backed by Constitution.
  •  Envoy says would work with “whomever Pakistani people choose”.

US Ambassador Donald Blome met Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja Thursday to reaffirm the US support for “free and fair elections”, saying it would work to strengthen the US-Pakistan relationship with “whomever the Pakistani people choose”.

“The United States remains committed to working to broaden and deepen the US-Pakistan relationship with whomever the Pakistani people choose”, a statement from the US embassy’s spokesperson read.

Ambassador Blome’s remarks come against a backdrop of uncertainty surrounding the general elections in Pakistan.

The then Shehbaz Sharif-led government dissolved the National Assembly on August 9, while Sindh and Balochistan assemblies were also prematurely dissolved to allow the electoral authority to hold elections in the country within 90 days instead of 60 days if the legislature completed its constitutional tenure.

However, the ECP may not be able to hold the polls within the stipulated time as the Council of Common Interest (CCI), days before the dissolution of the assemblies, approved the 7th Population and Housing Census 2023.

The move led to concerns from several quarters, including the Pakistan Peoples Party, which was part of the coalition government that ratified the census.

During the meeting today, the US ambassador reiterated that choosing Pakistan’s future leaders is for the Pakistani people to decide, the statement added.

Blome also reaffirmed that America would back transparent elections “conducted in accordance with Pakistan’s laws and constitution”.

Earlier in June this year, Michael Gahler, the head of the Election Observation Mission (EOM) of the EU Parliament, said that the EU may not send its election observers to Pakistan this year “because we are not sure about the general elections in Pakistan in 2023”.

Gahler told this to a group of Pakistani journalists in the EU Parliament who were visiting Belgium at the invitation of the European External Action Service.

Gahler is a member of the EU Parliament since 1999 and headed the EOM of Pakistan in 2008, 2013 and 2018.

He said that the EOM needed an invitation from the government of Pakistan to send their observation mission for the monitoring of the election at least three months before the election date. “But we have not received any invitation from Pakistan yet,” he added.

Former federal ministers including Rana Sanaullah have stated that the general elections in the country may be delayed until March next year due to the delimitation of constituencies to be held on the basis of the new census. 

Petitions have also been filed in the Supreme Court to ensure timely elections in the country.

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