The United States has supported freedom of expression in Pakistan but without any violence.
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters at his daily news conference on Monday “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. And specifically on the arrest, I spoke a little bit to this last week,” a possible reference to PTI Chairman Imran Khan who was arrested last week by the paramilitary force Rangers.
Pakistan has been in turmoil since the ouster of former prime minister Imran through a vote of confidence in April last year who has since been facing more than 100 criminal cases.
Patel refused to comment on Imran’s arrest last week but did say that laws of the land should be respected while making any arrests. He was asked specifically about the violence that followed the arrest from a Islamabad High Court.
“First and foremost, 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 and government buildings in harm’s way,” the spokesperson replied.
Patel also refused to comment on Imran’s arrest saying that the US would not talk about one political party or one candidate or other.
“Our view is, a strong, stable, and prosperous Pakistan is crucial to US-Pakistan relations. And that for any arrests that such a candidate is (granted) basic human rights in accordance with their laws,” he added.
Patel did not comment on Imran’s statement that journalists in Pakistan were not allowed to tell the other side of the story. “I am just not going to be prospective about the current situation.
“I do not 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,” he continued.
Last week, UN Secretary-General Antó¬nio Guterres also spoke about the protests that followed Imran Khan’s arrest and called for all parties to refrain from violence.
He urged Pakistani authorities to follow due process and the rule of law in proceedings brought against the former prime minister and stressed the need to respect the right to peaceful assembly.
Other Sources: Pakistan Today
Source: Dunya News
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