US Encourages Pakistan to Conduct Prompt and Fair Voting

In light of the uncertainty regarding Pakistan's election timeline, the United States has called upon the nation's leadership to ensure "timely, free, and fair" elections that adhere to Pakistan's legal framework.


Responding to a query about President Arif Alvi's indication that the elections should occur no later than November 6, the State Department Spokesperson, Matthew Miller, emphasized the importance of human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law. "As with countries globally, we urge Pakistan to hold free, fair, and timely elections," Miller addressed the press. He further insisted that Pakistan's electoral proceedings be consistent with its laws.


In a letter to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja, President Alvi outlined the constitutional directive to hold general elections within 90 days of the National Assembly's dissolution. The letter referenced the dissolution of the National Assembly on August 9, 2023, following the advice of then-Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. As a result, elections would need to be convened by November 6, 2023.


Yet, President Alvi also encouraged the CEC to seek the Supreme Court's counsel regarding the exact polling date. This suggestion arises from concerns the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and other parties voiced about the necessity of conducting fresh delimitations aligned with the latest census before elections.


The topic of Pakistan's impending elections has drawn international attention. British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Jane Marriott, recently met with CEC Raja in Islamabad. Highlighting the essence of the meeting on a social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, Marriott described the dialogue as "important" and accentuated the need for "free, credible, transparent, and inclusive elections in line with the law" in Pakistan.


The American sentiment mirrors this sentiment. Last month, US Ambassador Donald Blome convened with CEC Raja to restate the US's endorsement for "free and fair elections" in Pakistan. Blome emphasized the importance of allowing the Pakistani populace to choose their future leaders.


The decision to dissolve the National Assembly on August 9 under the then-governing Shehbaz Sharif-led administration has sparked debate. The dissolution of the Sindh and Balochistan assemblies followed, setting the stage for nationwide elections within 90 days. While standard procedure requires elections within 60 days after the legislature completes its term, a premature dissolution extends this deadline to three months.


Adding another layer to this electoral puzzle, the Council of Common Interest (CCI) sanctioned the 7th Population and Housing Census 2023 just days before the assemblies' dissolution. This move will likely cause further delays to the complex electoral timeline.


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