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.
Kirby 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.
The National Assembly is set to be dissolved with an interim government appointed to oversee elections.
In his farewell address at the NA today, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said he will send a summary to President Dr Arif Alvi tonight for the dissolution of the assembly.
The PTI chairman is ineligible. He was booted from power in April last year and recently jailed on corruption charges that his supporters dismiss as politically motivated.
The United States has been cautious in its comments on Imran and the election itself, fearing it will stir up conspiracy theories.
The PTI chief, a critic of US military operations, has alleged that a senior US official worked to oust him — claims strongly rejected by the United States.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said on Tuesday that Imran’s arrest was “an internal matter for Pakistan”.
“But of course, we continue to call for the respect for democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law in Pakistan as we do around the world,” he had said.