U.S. is officially shocked about election interference — in Pakistan

by WorldTribune Staff, February 23, 2024

Team Biden on Tuesday reiterated its call for a full and transparent investigation of “any claims of interference or fraud” in an election.

What election?

Former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif has been put forward as the next PM following days of coalition-building talks among rivals of Imran Khan and the PTI. /Arif Ali / AFP / Getty Images

The Feb. 8 general election — in Pakistan.

U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller called for an investigation when he was asked about explosive rigging allegations leveled by former Pakistani commissioner Rawalpindi Division Liaquat Ali Chatha.

“Any claims of interference or fraud should be fully and transparently investigated in accordance with Pakistan’s own laws and procedures. And that, of course, includes this claim as well,” Miller responded.

In another comment that received “are you serious” responses from critics, Miller slammed Pakistan’s blocking of the social media platform X, saying such censorship should not be occurring as the U.S. “always want to see full Internet freedom around the world, and that includes the availability of platforms that people use to communicate with each other.”

The Biden Administration is currently embroiled in a lawsuit charging that it colluded with social media platforms to censor opposition content.

Imran Khan’s political rivals have announced details of a coalition agreement, naming Shehbaz Sharif as their joint candidate for prime minister amid continuing concerns about the legitimacy of the Feb. 8 vote.

Related: In nuclear-armed Pakistan, its ISI ‘Deep State’ rules; Actual winner of disputed election sits in jail, February 18, 2024

Khan’s rivals said at a news conference of party leaders late on Tuesday that they had secured the required majority of votes to form a coalition government. The parliament will elect Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as the new prime minister when the inaugural session of the National Assembly is convened later this month, the party leaders said.

Khan’s PTI party asked for the resignation of the head of Pakistan’s Election Commission, Sikandar Sultan Raja, for allegedly failing to conduct the elections in a free and fair manner. Khan’s party claims the victories of dozens of its candidates were converted into defeats, a charge the elections oversight body denies.

Though Khan’s candidates won 93 out of 265 National Assembly seats in the elections, it was not enough to form a government. Sharif’s PML-N and Zardari’s PPP won 75 and 54 seats respectively.

Khan is serving multiple prison terms after being sentenced to a total of 31 years in prison on charges of corruption, revealing official secrets and marriage law violations in late January and early February during trials at a prison in Rawalpindi.

Related: Finally: Believe him or not, Mike Benz explains how censorship upended American governance, February 16, 2024

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