Donald Lu Presents Himself in Congress Hearing About Pakistan

A US Congressional committee discusses the recent elections in Pakistan, following concerns raised by more than two dozen US lawmakers regarding the fairness of the polls. The hearing, titled as “Pakistan After the Elections: Examining the Future of Democracy in Pakistan and the US-Pakistan Relationship”. Committee is hearing the allegations of vote rigging that marred the elections. Pakistan’s Former PM Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party has claimed that the new government was formed by unlawfully taking its mandate.

Donald Lu, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, said President Joe Biden’s administration identified a series of “irregularities” in the conduct of the February 8 elections as he emphasised the importance of ties between Washington and Islamabad. 

A subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the US House of Representatives is holding a hearing on the “future of democracy in Pakistan and the US-Pakistan relationship” on Wednesday. The hearing was announced last week after more than 30 members of Congress wrote to Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, asking them not to recognise Pakistan’s new government under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The February 8 elections were marred by widespread allegations of electoral manipulation, unusually delayed results and rigging. 

The State Department had voiced concerns over the elections at the time, but Pakistan has consistently denied the allegations. After criticism from the West, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 10 said it was surprised by the reactions, which failed to “acknowledge the free and enthusiastic exercise of the right to vote by tens of millions of Pakistanis”.

“They’ve always been false. You’ve heard me say that more than once, more than twice, more than ten times probably,” he said, adding that the State Department takes threats towards US officials seriously and condemn any effort to threaten the safety and security of the diplomats.

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