- Spokesperson says US does not have a position on one political party or one candidate or another
The US has said individuals should have the freedom to express themselves without participating in any violence, remarks that come in the aftermath of violent protests over the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.
During the briefing on Monday, US State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel was asked specifically about the violence that followed the arrest of the former Pakistan prime minister.
“Our belief is that individuals should have the freedom to express themselves but do so without participating in any violence, violence that would put government employees in government buildings in harm’s way.
“The US does not have a position on one political party or one candidate or another. Our view is a strong, stable, and prosperous Pakistan is crucial to U.S.-Pakistan relations and that for any arrest that such an individual is affronted basic human rights in accordance to their laws,” he replied.
Moreover, the spokesperson was also asked about the freedom of press in Pakistan.
“I’m just not going to be prescriptive about the current situation. I don’t have an assessment to offer from here.
“But broadly, we are very clear about the need for access for media and the access for information and the free flow of information between the government and journalists.”
Last week, the spokesperson, while referring to unrest in Pakistan following Imran’s arrest, said that the US continued to monitor the situation in Pakistan closely.
“We don’t have a position on one candidate or one political party versus another. What our interest is, is a safe and secure, prosperous Pakistan,” he said.
“That is in the interest of the US-Pakistan relations, and we call for the respect of democratic principles and the rule of law around the world.”
Talking about the suspension of mobile broadband and social media websites in Pakistan since last week, the spokesperson said that access to information and diverse ideas make a more prosperous and democratic society.
“Access to internet connection connects the public to information they need to advocate for themselves, to communicate with one another, to make informed decisions, to hold government officials accountable, and to exercise their freedom of expression.
“We are looking to continue to strengthen economic ties between our two countries by expanding private sector trade and investment, and there’s also an important security collaboration and areas of collaboration on renewable energy, addressing the climate crisis, increasing agricultural trade, and a number of areas.”
“That’s what we mean by a strong, prosperous, and democratic Pakistan that is critical to US interests,” he underlined.
Pakistan saw a fresh wave of violence last week in the aftermath of Khan’s arrest with protesters ransacking state and private property, prompting the government to deploy army troops in two provinces as well as the federal capital.
At least nine people died in the unrest, police and hospitals said earlier, while hundreds of police officers were injured.
The government made several arrests, which targeted top leadership of Khan’s party – the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – as well as his supporters with reports suggesting more than 4,000 people have been detained.
Khan, freed on bail, condemned the violence that ensued, but called for protests as he pushed ahead on his call for elections. Talks on holding polls failed earlier.