FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch Responds to US Remarks on Pakistan’s Elections

Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) has expressed its displeasure over the comments made during a US Congressional hearing regarding the country’s recent elections. The FO spokesperson, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, addressed these concerns during a weekly press briefing.

Baloch stated that there were several misunderstandings about Pakistan’s election laws during the Congressional panel hearing. The hearing, titled ‘Pakistan After the Elections: Examining the Future of Democracy in Pakistan and the US-Pakistan Relationship’, featured Donald Lu, the US Assistant Secretary of State, as a key witness.

Lu called for an investigation into electoral fraud claims in Pakistan and mentioned undue restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly during the February 8 polls. The US is closely monitoring the probe into these rigging allegations.

Baloch emphasized that while Pakistan values its relationship with the United States, it is important to address these misunderstandings. She also commented on the sentencing of Dr. Shakeel Afridi, who helped the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) locate Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. Baloch reiterated Pakistan’s long-standing position on this issue, stating that Afridi has been punished by a Pakistani court and that any exchange of prisoners is not discussed in the media.

Regarding the Pak-Iran gas pipeline project, Baloch stated that it is in Pakistan’s interest to proceed with it. She affirmed that the government’s decision on the project will be its own and that Pakistan is constructing the project in its territory. The government is committed to the construction of the pipeline, which is the first point at the moment.

The spokesperson also addressed the recent terror attack in Gwadar. She highlighted that security forces thwarted the attack and termed militant groups such as the Balochistan Liberation Army as a threat to the region. A large quantity of arms, ammunition, and explosives was recovered from the killed terrorists.

Baloch also spoke about the recent altercations with Afghanistan following terror attacks on Pakistan’s security forces, which martyred seven personnel of the armed forces last weekend. She described the Pak-Afghan border as ‘stable and peaceful’.

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