WASHINGTON: The United States said on Wednesday it was watching with concern the prospect of election violence in Pakistan, which is set for polls from which former prime minister Imran Khan has been barred.
“We’re obviously concerned about any actions — particularly violent actions — that can contribute to instability in Pakistan or, frankly, any other country with whom we share a set of common interests when it comes to counterterrorism,” said John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.
“So we’re watching it with concern, of course,” he told reporters
“Pakistan is a partner, particularly when it comes to the counterterrorism threat in that part of the world. And we have every expectation that they will remain so,” Kirby added.
He was responding to a question on whether violent extremists were taking advantage of political turmoil as the world’s fifth-most populous country heads to the polls.
His remarks come as the incumbent government’s tenure in Pakistan nears its end, with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif having said he will send a summary to President Dr Arif Alvi tonight for the dissolution of the National Assembly (NA).
The PM Shehbaz-led dispensation took the country’s reins after PTI Chairman Imran Khan was ousted from office through a no-confidence vote in April last year. Following his ouster, a majority of PTI members also resigned from the NA.
In the recent past, the US has been cautious in its comments on Imran and the election itself, fearing it will stir up conspiracy theories.
Meanwhile, Pakistan is also grappling with a spike in terrorism, particularly after the end of a ceasefire with militant outfit Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.