The British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Jane Marriott, held a notable meeting with the Chairman of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Sikandar Sultan Raja, in Islamabad. This diplomatic encounter has garnered significant attention, coming in the wake of a similar meeting held by the U.S. Ambassador, Donald Blome, with the ECP Chief. The timing and nature of these meetings have sparked controversy, with questions raised about potential foreign influence in Pakistan’s upcoming elections.
Marriott’s Meeting with ECP Chairman
British High Commissioner Jane Marriott described her meeting with Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja as an “important introductory meeting.” She took to the social media platform to share details of the encounter, stating, “Important introductory meeting with Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja at @ECP_Pakistan today.” She emphasized the importance of ensuring that Pakistan conducts “free, credible, transparent, and inclusive elections in line with the law.”
PTI’s Concerns and Criticism on Election Commission
Among those raising concerns over these diplomatic meetings is the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which has questioned the motivations and implications of such interactions. PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan expressed skepticism on social media, stating that Jane Marriott’s visit to the Chief Election Commissioner’s office “defies logic as to its merit & intentions.”
He also referenced a past Supreme Court of Pakistan judgment that found the CEC guilty of violating the constitution by delaying elections. Hasan criticized the CEC for his handling of national elections and suggested that inviting someone who had been held in contempt of the constitution might not be appropriate.
In a pointed comment, Hasan questioned whether such actions would be permitted in the UK, hinting at concerns of colonial-era influence. He urged Jane Marriott to move beyond any colonial mindset, avoid acting as a vicereine, and consider the sentiments of the Pakistani public.
The successive meetings between foreign diplomats and the Chairman of the Election Commission of Pakistan have raised important questions about the role of international actors in Pakistan’s electoral processes. While diplomatic engagements are common, the timing and context of these meetings have fueled speculation and criticism.
The statements made by PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan reflect concerns about the perceived implications of these interactions for the integrity of Pakistan’s democratic institutions. As Pakistan prepares for its upcoming elections, it remains to be seen how these concerns will be addressed and whether further diplomatic encounters will continue to be a subject of controversy.