Pakistan insists mobile services curbs necessary to avoid terror attacks during elections, hits back at criticism

The statement said some remarks were not even factually correct as there was no nationwide internet shutdown and only mobile services were suspended


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Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Published: Sat 10 Feb 2024, 5:51 PM

Pakistan on Saturday expressed surprise over the 'negative tone' of some of the statements by the international community about the February 8 elections and observed that mobile services curbs were needed to avoid terrorist attacks during the polls.

The polarised polls, largely peaceful, were held on Thursday, but the delay in the announcement of results became a major irritant for observers monitoring the elections.

Pakistan's Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement that the country took notice of remarks from certain countries and organisations on the general elections.

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“We are surprised by the negative tone of some of these statements, which neither take into account the complexity of the electoral process nor acknowledge the free and enthusiastic exercise of the right to vote by tens of millions of Pakistanis,” the FO said.

“These statements ignore the undeniable fact that Pakistan has held general elections, peacefully and successfully, while dealing with serious security threats resulting primarily from foreign-sponsored terrorism,” the statement said.

The statement said some remarks were not even factually correct as there was no nationwide internet shutdown and only mobile services were suspended to avoid terrorist incidents on the polling day.

“The elections exercise has demonstrated that the concerns of many commentators were misplaced,” it said.

The FO maintained that Pakistan held the elections as part of its commitment to building a stable and democratic society and while it values constructive advice from friends, making negative commentary even before the completion of the electoral process is neither constructive nor objective.

Pakistan will continue to work towards building a vibrant democratic polity and every election and peaceful transition of power brings it closer to that goal, it said.

“We do this not on account of the concerns expressed by others but because that is the aspiration of our people and the vision of our founding fathers,” it concluded.

Cash-strapped Pakistan held elections amid sporadic militant attacks and an unprecedented stoppage of all mobile phone services.

The US State Department said that Thursday's vote was held under undue restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

The European Union has also said it regrets the lack of a level playing field due to the inability of some political actors to contest the elections.

In Thursday's vote, no political party gained a simple majority and independent candidates backed by imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan took a lead in the vote count.

It forced Khan's main rival, three-time premier Nawaz Sharif, to announce plans to try to form a coalition government. Khan was disqualified from contesting because of criminal convictions.

Candidates backed by Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) won 100 out of the 266 seats up for grabs in the National Assembly.


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