US calls upon Pakistan to respect law in MQM crackdown

Washington: As the Pakistan government demolishes Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) offices and arrests activists in Karachi in a crackdown on the Sindh-based political party, the US said it continues to support government efforts to maintain law and order in the port city.

The crackdown, launched after MQM leader Altaf Hussain's latest tirade against Pakistan earlier this month, aims to sever the party's links from its chief who operates from London.

But the US State Department reminded the Pakistan government that all such efforts must be made in accordance with the rule of law.

In a statement shared with Dawn online on Monday, the State Department explained the US position on the current situation in Karachi, the ongoing operation against MQM and last week's mob attack on media offices in the port city, led allegedly by a group of its supporters.

In the statement, the US administration appeared supportive of the government's action against MQM but urged it not to violate its own laws while doing so.

"We are monitoring these events closely and continue to support Pakistan's efforts to maintain law and order in Karachi, while emphasising that all efforts must be made in accordance with the rule of law," Dawn online quoted the statement as saying.

On Saturday, senior MQM leader Farooq Sattar urged the government to end what he called was an "undeclared ban" on his party, claiming that it had parted ways with Hussain and the London secre­tariat and now the leadership in Pakistan was running the party.

Commenting on MQM's claim that it reserves the right to protest against the ongoing operation, the State Department told the party that such protests should always be peaceful.

"We believe in the importance of public assembly and freedom of speech as cornerstones of democratic societies but also emphasise the importance that such protests must be conducted peacefully," Dawn online reported citing the statement.

The statement, however, avoided making direct comments on the current situation, saying: "We are still gathering information on the events and have no further comment at this time."