US expresses concern over denial of visas to foreign poll observers

December 1st, 2007 - 1:32 pm ICT by admin  

Islamabad, Dec 1 (ANI): The US Government has officially raised serious concern that foreign election observers willing to oversee elections in Pakistan are being denied visas by Pakistan embassies.
The matter has been raised at the level of President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Muhammedmian Soomro.
US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W Patterson, held an urgent meeting with Soomro on the issue, while a delegation of US Congressmen called on Musharraf on Friday and informed him that visas were being denied to election observers.
The issue was also raised by Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Benazir Bhutto during her meeting with the US Senators.
Top official level sources have claimed that both Musharraf and Soomro were caught off guard when a genuinely worried US Ambassador and Congressmen lodged these complaints with them.
Both leaders are said to have expressed their complete “surprise” and “ignorance” over the denial of visas to foreign observers, sources said.
Musharraf and Soomro have promised to look into the issue, The News quoted some sources, as saying.
Earlier, sources said that the International Republican Institute (IRI) had brought this issue to the notice of the US Government, which provides it funds for its democracy-related activities in Pakistan.
Elizabeth Colton, who is the political secretary at the US Embassy in Islamabad, confirmed that there were concerns with regard to the delay in the issuance of visas to foreign observers.
“Yes, there are concerns about delays in visa-issuance for election observers, and this concern has been raised this week in several meetings by the US Ambassador with Soomro and by Congressmen with Musharraf on Friday,” The News quoted Cotton, as saying. (ANI)

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