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US opposes Pakistan government’s crackdown on Afghan refugees

State Department spokesman declines to comment on arrest warrants issued for Imran Khan: Says US supports peaceful upholding of democratic, constitutional and legal principles in Pakistan: Flays internet shutdowns in India-occupied Kashmir

March 3, 2023 10:22 AM


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The United States has opposed efforts by the government in Pakistan to return Afghan refugees to their country, saying Islamabad should honour its obligations regarding refugees, reported 24NewsHD TV channel on Friday.

Addressing a news briefing in Washington on Thursday, State Department spokesman Ned Price disclosed that Washington was in discussion with the authorities in Pakistan on the issue of crackdown on Afghan refugees which fled their country after Taliban came into power.

Ned Price said “We’re discussing this matter with our Pakistani counterparts. We’re in regular discussion with our Pakistani counterparts about this. We encourage all states to uphold their respective obligations with regard to Afghan refugees or asylum seekers, and to refrain from returning them to anywhere where they could face persecution or torture.”

The State Department spokesman declined to comment when asked for his reaction on the arrest warrants issued by a court against former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan, saying these questions are for the Pakistani people and not for the United States.

Responding to rising political unrest and chaos in Pakistan, Ned Prcie said: " We support the peaceful upholding of democratic, constitutional, and legal principles around the world, including in Pakistan."

To a query about internet shutdowns in India, particularly in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), Ned Price said the US talks about freedom of expression, freedom of people around the world to access information, and continues to highlight the importance of freedom of expression, including via access to the internet as a human right that contributes to strengthening democracies and to strengthening countries around the world.

Following are the excerpts of Ned Price’s news briefing regarding Pakistan:

QUESTION: Sir, there is a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Afghans, including women and children, are being arrested for their illegal presence. They crossed the border after Taliban took the power in Afghanistan. Sir, is there any discussion with the Pakistani authorities to give them, like, temporary shelter till the situation is better in Afghanistan?

MR PRICE: This is a matter we’re discussing with our Pakistani counterparts. We’re in regular discussion with our Pakistani counterparts about this. We encourage all states to uphold their respective obligations with regard to Afghan refugees or asylum seekers, and to refrain from returning them to anywhere where they could face persecution or torture.

QUESTION: One last question, please. Sir, Pakistani court issued arrest warrants for former prime minister Imran Khan for selling state gifts and concealing his assets. His party workers termed it a political victimization. Sir, what are your thoughts on, like, rising political unrest and chaos in Pakistan?

MR PRICE: These are questions for the Pakistani people. These are not the questions for the United States. As I’ve said before, we support the peaceful upholding of democratic, constitutional, and legal principles around the world, including in Pakistan.

QUESTION: Today the internet advocacy watchdog Access Now, they’re saying in their latest report that India topped the list of fifth successive year for highest number of internet shutdowns in the world in 2022. More than 85 internet shutdowns were recorded in Indian-occupied Kashmir. Your thoughts on that? You always talk about the freedom of speech.

MR PRICE: You’re right, we always do talk about it. We talk about freedom of expression, freedom of people around the world to access information, and we continue to highlight the importance of freedom of expression, including via access to the internet as a human right that contributes to strengthening democracies and to strengthening countries around the world. This is something we advocate for with our partners and allies in countries around the world.



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