January 9, 2024
ISLAMABAD – Diplomats from the United Kingdom and United States emphasised the need to hold fair elections on February 8 in meetings on Monday with PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.
The general elections in the country are scheduled for a month later. The run-up to the polls has been marred by concerns and accusations from political parties and civil society regarding the lack of a level playing field in the political arena.
The concerns were echoed in a meeting between British High Commissioner Jane Marriott and Nawaz in Lahore today.
According to a statement issued by the PML-N, the British diplomat said: “Holding inclusive elections on February 8 is critical to Pakistan’s future.”
Matters of mutual interest were discussed in the meeting attended by PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, Senator Ishaq Dar and Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz.
“A strong relationship between Pakistan and Britain is in the interest of both countries. Pakistanis living in Britain are playing an important role in strengthening the friendship between the two countries,” the PML-N statement quoted Nawaz as saying.
He stressed that the promotion of relations between Pakistan and the UK in various fields such as trade and investment was the need of the hour.
Separately, US Ambassador in Pakistan Donald Blome visited Bilawal at Zardari House in Islamabad to “discuss current political issues, including the importance of free, fair, and inclusive elections”.
A press release from the US Embassy in Islamabad said the meeting came amid the ambassador’s engagements with a “broad range of Pakistani political stakeholders”.
It added that the two also discussed the strength of the US-Pakistan trade and investment relationship, as well as the development of the US-Pakistan “Green Alliance” framework.
A statement from the PPP said the two chiefly discussed ways to promote bilateral and trade relations between the US and Pakistan.