A spokesperson from the State Department emphasizes the respect for the Pakistani legal process and democratic principles.
US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller declined to delve into specifics on Tuesday regarding the sentencing of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, noting that the matter falls within the jurisdiction of the Pakistani courts.
During a routine press briefing, spokesperson Miller consistently underscored that the legal proceedings against the ex-prime minister and leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were issues to be addressed by the Pakistani judicial system.
“We have been closely monitoring the cases involving the former prime minister, but we refrain from offering commentary on the sentencing,” he reiterated. Miller emphasized, “The jurisdiction lies with the Pakistani courts.”
The spokesperson emphasized that the prosecution of the former prime minister is a matter for the legal system, and the United States would defer to Pakistani courts on legal matters. However, he expressed a hope for the democratic process to unfold in a manner that fosters broad participation from all parties, stressing the significance of upholding democratic principles.
In response to a related question, Miller clarified that the US maintains a neutral position on internal Pakistani affairs and avoids endorsing candidates for office in the country. “We advocate for a free, fair, and transparent democratic process, and in legal matters, it is up to Pakistani courts to render decisions,” he emphasized.
The spokesperson reaffirmed the US’s unwavering support for the promotion of democratic principles, human rights, and the rule of law both in Pakistan and globally.
Miller emphasized the United States’ aspiration for a free and fair election, stating that they would closely monitor the process over the next week to 10 days. While acknowledging areas for improvement within Pakistan, he clarified that there was “no specific assessment made in the current case.”
Previously, the US had stated its commitment to supporting a “vibrant” democracy in Pakistan but emphasized that it did not intend to dictate the “exact specifics” of conducting the upcoming general elections scheduled for next month.
Miller declined to comment on the allegations of “excesses ahead of the polls” leveled by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) against the government.
“We will persist in backing democratic expression and a robust democracy in Pakistan,” he conveyed to the journalists. “The United States does not have the authority to dictate the specific procedures for Pakistan’s electoral process,” he further remarked.
“But it is important to emphasize that we want to see those elections conducted in a free, fair, and peaceful manner, including upholding freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, and ultimately ensuring a complete, transparent, and robust democratic process,” he elaborated.
“As I’ve mentioned previously, our primary focus remains on upholding the democratic process.” We advocate for free and fair elections conducted in accordance with Pakistan’s laws, and we do not endorse any candidate or party over another in Pakistan or anywhere else in the world.”
The spokesperson’s remarks coincide with the sentencing of the former prime minister to 10 years in prison in the cypher case, which occurred a day earlier. He was found guilty in the case along with party leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who served as the foreign minister in Imran’s government.
The sentence was issued within Adiala jail, where the former prime minister is already serving time, by Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqarnain of the special court established under the Official Secrets Act.
Earlier today, Imran, along with his wife Bushra Bibi, was also sentenced to 14 years in the Toshakhana case.
Accountability court Judge Mohammad Bashir oversaw the proceedings at Adiala jail in Rawalpindi, where the former prime minister is detained.
Imran and Bushra were additionally prohibited from holding any public office for the next 10 years and were collectively fined a total of Rs1,574 million.
These convictions come just a week before the country heads to the polls on February 8.