As Pakistan is grappling with violent protests, Vedant Patel, the US State Department’s Principal Deputy Spokesperson, flagged the gross human rights violations and jeopardization of press freedom in the country.
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1. What is the latest development?
On Thursday, Vedant Patel, the US State Department’s principal spokesperson, underlined the US’s concern over the plummeting situation in Pakistan. As per the press release, he stated that the US is keeping a watch on the ongoing turmoil in the country. At the same time, it was stated that gross human rights violations and the jeopardization of press freedom are reported across the turmoil-hit country. Patel averred that the US advocates “democratic and constitutional principles” to be abided by across countries. This statement was in reply to the questions raised after internet shutdowns were reported across Pakistan.
As per the reports, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority announced the internet shutdown for an indefinite period, considering the gravity of the protests. Patel averred the US broach the “rule of law” and “transparency and justice” for everyone. Pakistan is embroiled in a massive domestic uproar amid a ravaging economic crisis and a bleak political situation.
2. Imran Khan’s arrest
In Islamabad, there has been a high-octane clash between the government of Pakistan and the supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan. On Tuesday, he was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) of Pakistan to probe the alleged corruption charges against him. However, this spurred nationwide protests, violent protests, and vandalism by his supporters. This has even raised plausible apprehensions of a civil war in the South Asian country.
The unprecedented arrest by the Pakistani authorities has witnessed a rare protest and angst among the supporters who are targeting government and Army properties. As tensions grew, paramilitary troops were called in to assuage the protestors. There is a huge uncertainty shrouding Pakistan at the moment, as the country is battling a huge food crisis, terrorist and extremist activities, and a grave economic crisis.
3. Deep turmoil and tensions
Earlier, the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared the arrest of Imran Khan to be “illegal’. The court averred that the arrest should not be made as Imran Khan was inside the court and ordered the Islamabad police to release Khan and at the same time beef up his security near his premises. Imran Khan was ousted from power last year in April after losing the no-confidence motion in the Parliament. Shehbaz Sharif was appointed as the new prime minister. However, he has since initiated a nationwide protest and demanded a snap general election. His huge popularity in the country has sparked protests against the government in different pockets of the country.
After the Supreme Court’s verdict, there is a sense of calmness in the country that has been on the boil for the past two days. Protestors have ransacked public buildings, leading to police using arson and tear gas. There have been reports of several injuries to the protestors, and some were reported dead in the nuclear arsenal country.
4. Regional and global repercussions
Pakistan’s turmoil is not seeming to end any time soon and is contingent on the supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) not taking the streets again. Imran Khan has urged them to maintain peace and stability. This not only pushes Pakistan, which is already on the brink of an economic collapse, into another precarious condition, but it pushes the entire region into an unplumed territory.
There is a lot that remains to be seen in how Pakistan rescues itself from this unprecedented situation and how the turmoil augurs for regional and global peace, stability, and security.