Pakistan’s Defense Minister Criticizes US Resolution for Election Probe

The defense minister of Pakistan spoke out against a resolution passed by the United States House of Representatives on June 26th, which sought an investigation into allegations of vote irregularities in Pakistan’s general election in February.

Violence, communication outages, and accusations of vote-rigging by the party of imprisoned former prime minister Imran Khan tainted the vote, which resulted in no clear majority for any one party. The country’s electoral commission does not believe this.

In May, during the countrywide riots, followers of Khan seized an air base in Mianwali, eastern Punjab province, destroyed other military buildings, and set fire to a building in the northwest that housed state-run Radio Pakistan. The only thing that stopped the bloodshed was when the Supreme Court freed Khan.

According to Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, the US does not have the authority to judge or meddle in his domestic matters.  In his view, Tuesday’s resolution was little more than political posturing during a presidential election in the US and had no practical use.  The U.S. House resolution denounced any attempt to undermine the electoral process and demanded an impartial inquiry.

In a more measured response, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said that the resolution is based on a misunderstanding of Pakistan’s political climate and voting process.

Even though Khan’s party was barred from running in the elections, they nonetheless applauded the decision.  Independents supported by Khan garnered the most votes, but they were short of a majority necessary to establish a government. Instead, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and a coalition of his opponents created a government.  The elections are still divisive and have been the subject of many lawsuits.

Meanwhile, former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan and his spouse were re-convicted and sentenced to seven years in jail on Thursday by an appeals court for their alleged illegal marriage in 2018.

His lawyers have already announced their intention to appeal the court’s ruling.

Khan and his spouse were given seven years in jail in February after a judge found that they broke the legislation prohibiting women from getting married again for three months.

Pakistan upholds the three-month waiting time as an imperative of Islamic law, which the couple denied violating.