US expresses concern over ‘political unrest’ in Pakistan

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby speaks during a press briefing. — AFP/File
  • US also termed Imran Khan’s arrest “an internal matter for Pakistan”.
  • US, however, calls for respect of democratic principles in Pakistan.
  • The National Assembly is set to be dissolved today (Wednesday).

In view of the evolving situation in Pakistan ahead of the upcoming polls, with former prime minister Imran Khan having been disqualified for five years by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the United States said it is watching with concern the prospect of election violence in the country.

In a statement on Wednesday, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said: “We’re obviously concerned about any actions — particularly violent actions — that can contribute to instability in Pakistan or, frankly, any other country with whom we share a set of common interests when it comes to counterterrorism.”

“So we’re watching it with concern, of course,” he told reporters.

Kirby was responding to a question on whether violent extremists were taking advantage of political turmoil as the world’s fifth-most populous country heads to the polls, AFP reported. 

The National Assembly is set to be dissolved today (Wednesday) with an interim government appointed to oversee elections.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, who was removed from power via a parliamentary vote in April last year, has also been convicted and jailed for three years on graft charges.

The US has been cautious in its comments on Khan and the election itself, fearing it will stir up conspiracy theories.

The PTI chief, a critic of US military operations, has alleged that a senior US official worked to oust him — claims strongly rejected by Washington.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Tuesday that Khan’s arrest was “an internal matter for Pakistan.”

“But of course we continue to call for the respect for democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law in Pakistan as we do around the world,” he added.

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