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Friday, April 19, 2024  
09 Shawwal 1445  

US urges Pakistan to lift restrictions on X

‘We continue to call on Pakistan to respect freedom of expression,’ US State Dept spokesperson
US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller responds to a query during a press briefing on February 22, 2024. Screengrab via US State Department
US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller responds to a query during a press briefing on February 22, 2024. Screengrab via US State Department

The United States called Wednesday on Pakistan to lift restrictions on X, formerly known as Twitter, after days of disruption following an election marred by fraud allegations.

“We are concerned by any report of restrictions on the exercise of the freedom of expression and association in Pakistan, including a partial or complete government-imposed internet shutdown,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

“We continue to call on Pakistan to respect freedom of expression and restore access to any social media that has been restricted including Twitter, now known as X,” he said.

“We have and we will continue to emphasize the importance of respecting these fundamental freedoms during our engagements with Pakistani officials.”

X went down in Pakistan on Saturday night after a senior government official made a public admission of vote manipulation in the February 8 election.

The two main dynastic parties, the army-backed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), late Tuesday announced a coalition with smaller parties to govern the world’s fifth most populous nation.

Excluded from government were candidates loyal to jailed former prime minister Imran Khan. His supporters took the most seats even though they were forced to run as independents and they allege they would have enjoyed a decisive victory without rigging.

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The United States has called for an investigation of fraud claims but declined to comment on the makeup of the coalition, which will need to be formally approved by the National Assembly.

“As is the case whenever you see coalition politics taking place inside any given country, that’s a decision for that country itself, not something that we would weigh in on,” Miller said.

Pakistan was a Cold War ally of the United States and offered logistical support for the war in Afghanistan, but relations soured over US charges that covert Pakistani support helped the Taliban return to power and the more recent US embrace of Pakistan’s rival India.

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