Guterres calls for resolving Pakistan poll disputes through legal means

by IANS |

United Nations, Feb 13 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for resolving the Pakistan election disputes through legal means.

"The Secretary-General urges the authorities, political leaders to maintain a calm atmosphere and to reject and refrain from all forms of violence and avoid any actions that could increase or enflame tensions," his Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Monday.

Pakistan faces political turmoil as none of the political parties won a clear majority to form a government in Thursday's elections, with the supporters of imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan emerging unexpectedly strong despite the military's antagonism towards them amid claims of poll fraud.

Dujarric said that Guterres is following the situation "closely" and "urges the authorities, political leaders to maintain a calm atmosphere and to reject and refrain from all forms of violence and avoid any actions that could increase or enflame tensions".

"He calls for the resolving of all issues and disputes through the established legal frameworks and for human rights and the rule of law to be fully respected in the interest of the people of Pakistan," Dujarric added.

Of the 268 National Assembly seats that were contested, independents supporting Khan, founder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), bagged 93 seats, the most of any group.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Union Muslim League-Nawaz finished second with 75 seats and the Pakistan People's Party of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari came next with 54 seats.

Khan was convicted in four criminal cases, including violating the official secrets law and contracting an illegal marriage, and given prison sentences totalling 34 years.

The PTI has alleged that there was widespread vote rigging and its supporters held protests across the country on Sunday, clashing in some places with police who tried to enforce bans on public gatherings.

Meanwhile, in Washington, State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said, "The claims of interference and fraud that we have seen raised, we want to ensure are fully investigated by Pakistan's legal system, and we will be continuing to monitor that in the days ahead."

He added that "political and election-related violence and restrictions on internet and cell phone service" have "negatively impacted the electoral service".

But he also said that "it was clearly a competitive election in which people were able to exercise their choice".

(Arul Louis can be contacted at and followed at @arulouis)

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