A high-ranking US official has expressed encouragement over Pakistan’s announcement to hold elections soon, amidst the country’s ongoing political crises. The current coalition government’s tenure is set to end on August 12, but there are indications that they might dissolve the assemblies earlier, possibly around August 8.
Elizabeth Horst, the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, conveyed her hope for a free, fair, and peaceful election while addressing Pakistani journalists in Washington. She emphasized that the decision of whom to elect lies with the Pakistani people, and the US supports the rule of law and democracy in the country.
The US State Department’s spokesperson, Matthew Miller, had previously asserted their support for upholding fundamental democratic principles, such as free media, free speech, and freedom of assembly, in Pakistan.
Zafar Iqbal, the Special Secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan, stated that if the National Assembly is dissolved after completing its tenure, the ECP will conduct the polls before October 11.
Regarding US engagement, Horst clarified that the United States would work with any government elected by Pakistanis as the incumbent government’s tenure nears its end. She asserted that the US has no position on any specific political candidate or party.
The exact date for the general election has not been set yet, as Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb stated that no decision has been made on the dissolution of the parliament. She mentioned that a formal announcement about the election date will be made after consultations with all coalition partners.
These elections come amid months of political and economic turmoil in Pakistan, leading to uncertainties and speculations about potential delays. The country’s caretaker government would have 90 days to hold the elections if the current government hands over power early, but only 60 days if it completes its full term.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s coalition assumed power after his predecessor, Imran Khan, was ousted in a vote of no confidence in parliament in April 2022. Since then, Khan has been advocating for snap elections, organizing protests nationwide, and causing tensions with the incumbent government.