U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson says the U.S. will sponsor observer programs in support of Pakistan’s elections. “The assistance from the United States is part of the international community’s desire to assist Pakistan in holding free, fair, and transparent elections,” said Ms. Patterson.
The International Republican Institute and The Asia Foundation are two non-partisan, non-governmental organizations whose mission is to promote good governance and free, fair, and open elections. The International Republican Institute will send international observers to Pakistan’s four provinces to conduct a pre-election assessment followed by election-day observation. The U.S. is also contributing to the Asia Foundation’s efforts to place independent domestic observers at polling places nationwide. A coalition of thirty Pakistani civil society organizations will conduct nationwide monitoring of the campaign environment, election day procedures, and announcement of results. The U.S. is also supporting voter education, training of election officials, and the purchase of transparent ballot boxes.
Pakistan’s prime minister Shaukat Aziz announced that elections for parliament and provincial assemblies will be held in January 2008, sixty days after members of parliament and the provincial assemblies complete their terms on November 15TH. Mr. Aziz said a caretaker government would be in place to conduct the elections.
U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey says the U.S. supports free and fair elections in Pakistan:
“We certainly have a clear and consistent message in our conversations, whether it’s with [Pakistani] government officials or opposition officials, and that’s that we share the vision for Pakistan’s future that’s been laid out by President [Pervez] Musharraf and others, which is Pakistan as a peaceful, democratic, moderate Islamic state and one that works with us to be able to fight extremism and terrorism.”
State Department deputy spokesman Casey said “the thing that’s important for people to remember is that the decisions on Pakistan’s political future are going to be made by Pakistanis.”