The US is “closely” monitoring the situation in Pakistan’s Karachi city where security forces have arrested several Muttahida Qaumi Movement workers after violent protests, a senior American official said today.
“We are monitoring these events closely and continue to support Pakistan’s efforts to maintain law and order in Karachi,” a State Department spokesman told PTI.
“The US is also committed to defending freedom of speech, rule of law and due process, freedom of expression, and judicial independence,” the official said when asked about the crackdown on MQM – Karachi’s single largest party. The spokesperson, however, said that in exercising freedom of expression “everyone” must uphold the rule of law.
The spokesperson was critical of Pak government’s decision to ban the media from covering MQM chief Altaf Hussain who is self-exiled in London.
“The US is committed to defending media freedom. We believe that threats to the independence of the media are unbecoming of any country that counts itself among the world’s democracies,” the spokesman said.
“Access to free and unfettered press is a pillar of the democratic system and a value shared by all democracies. We have no further comment at this time,” the official said. In a statement here, MQM alleged it has been subjected to an intense military-led crackdown for the past six days.
“MQM leaders have been abducted and hundreds of MQM offices have been illegally sealed and several hundred demolished, no legal justification was provided for this insane act, but to merely take revenge against Altaf Hussain,.
“He has been denied his universal right to express himself for over one year, his followers have been denied their fundamental right to associate themselves with any political party of their own choice… these rights are not only guaranteed universally but the constitution of Pakistan affords the same protection, which are being ignored, violated and denied,” the pasty said.
A largely ethnic party since the 1980s, MQM has political dominance in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province – notably in Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Sukkur where a large number of urdu-speaking people reside.