Donald Lu supports Pakistan election irregularities probe

US Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu questioned the fairness of Pakistan’s Feb. 8 general elections and called for a probe into rigging.

Lu said on Tuesday that he was concerned about election violations but wanted to “stay engaged with Pakistan to help it navigate through the crises it is facing.”

Lu will testify before a US House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on “Pakistan After the Elections: Examining the Future of Democracy in Pakistan and the US-Pakistan Relationship.”

Using a cypher, former ambassador Lu allegedly warned the ex-Pakistan envoy to the US, Asad Majeed, causing a crisis in Pakistan. The former prime minister and PTI founder cited the cypher in speeches alleging a 2022 US conspiracy to overthrow him.

Lu noted Washington’s concerns about Pakistan’s freedom constraints, violence, and electoral interference in his written evidence.

He said that numerous political leaders struggled to register candidates and parties, which hurt them in the election.

He also noted party supporters’ harassment and assault of journalists, particularly women.

He noted “positive aspects” of the elections, such as a record number of women and minority candidates and a strong turnout of over 60 million voters, including over 21 million women.

Despite worries, Lu underlined the necessity of strengthening Pakistan’s democratic institutions and economic stability through development funds, private sector investment, and humanitarian relief. He also noted Pakistan’s rising debt and the need for economic reforms and private sector investments to boost growth.

He stressed human rights and religious liberties while emphasising counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan. He also underlined the importance of working with the subcommittee to implement US strategy in Pakistan and promote peace, democracy, and prosperity.

The House subcommittee’s website posted the written statement a day before the hearing, stating that Islamabad is Pakistan’s top export destination and an essential partner.

Pakistan is struggling with debt following a decade of high borrowing, notably from China. This year, approximately 70% of the federal government’s earnings will go to servicing this large debt, Lu added, explaining why the US should interact with Pakistan.

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