The ongoing crackdown on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders and workers has led to a statement from the US State Department, calling for due process to be followed and arrests to be carried out in accordance with the law.
Scores of PTI workers and leaders have been arrested following violent protests that were triggered by the arrest of party chief Imran Khan on May 9 in the Al-Qadir Trust case. During the three-day unrest, PTI workers damaged public properties and stormed military installations across the country, resulting in the deaths of at least 10 people and dozens more injured.
The US State Department spokesperson, Vedant Patel, said during a regular press briefing on Monday that the US believes in non-violent protests and that government employees or public properties should not be damaged during protests. The spokesperson also added that the US position on access to information and press freedom is clear.
Patel reiterated that the US does not have a position regarding one political party or leader in Pakistan. He stated that a strong, stable, and prosperous Pakistan is critical to Islamabad-Washington ties.
Last week, both the US and the UK called for a democratic response to the protests against Imran Khan’s arrest. The spokesperson said that the authorities in Pakistan should respond in accordance with the rights and democratic rules while urging the former premier’s supporters to protest peacefully.
During a Special Corps Commanders Conference (CCC) held at the General Headquarters, the military’s top brass vowed to try protesters and their abettors under relevant laws, including the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act, after the PTI workers and supporters stormed military installations on May 9, which the army dubbed as “Black Day.”
The decision was made after the forum expressed its firm resolve that those involved in these heinous crimes against military installations and personnel/equipment will be brought to justice through trials under relevant laws of Pakistan, including the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secret Act. The military’s top brass also resolved that restraint would no longer be exercised against perpetrators, spoilers, and violators who attack military installations and setups under any circumstances.
The decision to try the PTI workers under the Pakistan Army Act is yet to be made after the military warned of bringing the perpetrators to book, according to Defence Minister Khawaja Asif. The situation in Pakistan remains tense as authorities continue to crack down on PTI workers and leaders, while international pressure mounts for a democratic response to the ongoing protests.