South Asia

US, UK, EU urge investigation into Pakistan election

ISLAMABAD — The United States, United Kingdom, and European Union separately urged an investigation into Pakistan’s election process Friday, citing concerns following Thursday’s vote.

The contest primarily involved former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and candidates supported by ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan. Both sides have claimed victory.

A total of 265 National Assembly seats were contested, with 133 needed for a majority. Allegations of interference, including activist arrests, have been raised by the US and the EU, emphasizing the need for a thorough investigation of irregularities and fraud claims.

Khan, currently incarcerated, and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party were barred from the election. Independents, mostly Khan supporters, led the count with 98 of 245 seats by 6:30 p.m. GMT, while PML-N secured 69 seats.

Khan accuses the military of orchestrating a crackdown against PTI, while analysts and opponents suggest military backing for Sharif.

The EU highlighted the election’s uneven playing field, citing restrictions on certain political groups, freedom of assembly, expression, and internet access. The US State Department similarly noted limitations on expression and assembly, alongside violence and media attacks.

US Representatives Ro Khanna and Ilhan Omar expressed concerns, with Khanna alleging military interference in the election results. Both called for the State Department to withhold recognition of a winner until full investigations are completed.

Pakistani media report PTI-backed candidates leading with nearly 100 seats, followed by PML-N with 71, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) with 53, and Muttahida Qaumi Movement – Pakistan (MQM-P) with 17 seats.