WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Monday called for restraint by all sides in Pakistan’s political crisis, saying protesters had a right to demonstrate peacefully but that it strongly opposed efforts to impose change through violence and destruction of property,.
“We have been carefully monitoring the demonstrations in Islamabad. We continue to urge all sides to refrain from violence, exercise restraint, and respect the rule of law,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, calling for peaceful dialogue.
Protesters led by opposition leaders Imran Khan, a hero cricket player turned politician, and Tahir ul-Qadri, a firebrand cleric, have been on the streets for weeks trying to bring down the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Demonstrators clashed with police over the weekend, and three people were killed.
“Peaceful protest and freedom of expression are important aspects of democracy,” Psaki said in a statement. “ Violence and destruction of private property and government buildings are not acceptable means of resolving political differences, however, and we strongly oppose any efforts to impose extra-constitutional change to the political system.”
Reporting By Matt Spetalnick Editing by W Simon