US says it is focused on 'ensuring, supporting' free and fair elections in Pakistan

US says it is focused on 'ensuring, supporting' free and fair elections in Pakistan

Washington, Nov 7 (PTI) The US has said it is focused on 'ensuring and supporting' that free and fair elections are held in Pakistan in a manner that would benefit the people of the country.

Ending months of suspense, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced this month that it will hold the general elections on February 8.

“Our focus continues to be on ensuring and supporting that there are free and fair elections that are conducted in a way for the benefit of the Pakistani people,” US State Department’s Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said in reply to a question about the forthcoming general elections in Pakistan.

Patel was addressing reporters during the department’s press briefing on Monday.

Responding to a question regarding elections in Pakistan and the doubts over jailed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairperson Imran Khan’s participation in the polls, Patel said he did not have “an assessment on the makeup of candidates or the representation of any specific political party.” “That is for the people of Pakistan to decide,” he added. Khan, the former prime minister, has been in jail since August this year in connection with the cipher case.

Khan, the former prime minister and his close ally ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, 67, were indicted on October 23 for the alleged leaking of a diplomatic cable (cipher) and violating the secrecy laws of the country.

There are several other cases lodged against Khan and his colleagues and supporters too.

Political activities have picked up in Pakistan ever since the ECP announced the date for general elections.

There has been speculation that Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif, who returned to Pakistan after a self-imposed exile of four years in London, has been blessed by the powerful Pakistan Army and that former prime minister Khan has been deliberately kept in jail. PTI NPK AKJ NPK NPK

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