WASHINGTON / LONDON: The US State Department said that Imran Khan’s arrest was Pakistan’s internal matter, but independent observers warned it would worsen the political crisis.

“The cases against Imran Khan and other politicians in Pakistan are an internal matter,” a State Depar­tment spokesperson told Dawn when asked for comments. “We call for the respect of democratic principles and the rule of law in Pakistan, as we do around the world.”

US lawmakers, who usually support Mr Khan and his politics, were silent. Political commentators and think-tank experts, however, were more forthcoming.

“Not long ago, Pakistan’s political crisis appeared to be easing a bit, with the government pledging to step down and make way for a caretaker to prepare for elections,” tweeted Michael Kugelman, a scholar of South Asian affairs at the Wilson Centre in Washington.

“But now, with Khan arrested again and indications that elections may be delayed, all bets are completely off,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.

MNA Mohsin Dawar, who is in North America, noted in a tweet: “One PM was convicted on an iqama and now another on selling a wristwatch. Politicians get discredited over such trivial matters while (others) get away” with more serious charges.

“Politicians keep getting used and then are discarded like Imran Khan. We keep going round and round in circles,” he wrote.

In London, several supporters of Mr Khan gathered outside the Pakistan High Commission to protest his arrest on Saturday.

Shayan Ali, a prominent PTI activist in London, called on Mr Khan’s supporters to gather at the Pakistan mission in Lowndes Square on Saturday afternoon.

Though it was a rainy day with showers throughout, PTI supporters assembled outside the embassy and chanted slogans in favour of Mr Khan.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2023

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