US does not support extra-constitutional changes in Pakistan: State Department

State department spokesperson cautions reporters from assuming eventuality of protests; urges political dialogue

APP August 21, 2014

WASHINGTON: The United States has said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was constitutionally elected, with the State Department also stating that Washington does not support any extra-constitutional changes to the democratic system.

State Department Deputy spokesperson Marie Harf brushed aside the suggestion of regime change. "I in no way am calling on that", she responded, when questioned if the US is calling for Nawaz to step down.

"We support the constitutional and electoral process in Pakistan", the spokesperson said at the daily briefing.

"We do not support any extra-constitutional changes to that democratic system, or people attempting to impose that", she added.

"Nawaz Sharif was elected and he is the prime minister. There is a government that was elected, and is in place", Harf noted in reply to a question.

"While we call on all sides to refrain from violence, we are monitoring the situation. We will continue to work with the Pakistanis."

The spokesperson was replying to questions by journalists who wanted to know about the US position on the ongoing marches in the capital.

She also urged a peaceful political dialogue. "I would caution you from assuming, sort of, where this goes from here. We think there is a path forward here that is peaceful. We know there is a lot of space for political dialogue, but it has to remain peaceful."

The spokesperson checked an Indian journalist against portraying the marches situation in dire negative terms, when he suggested that the situation in Pakistan was grave.

"We caution you from using terms like grave", she stated.

US not involved in negotiations between parties

A statement from the United States Embassy in Islamabad has clarified that the US is not involved in negotiations between parties in light of the recent developments on the political front.

“Any suggestion to the contrary is false and unhelpful to the dialogue between parties,” the statement reads.

Further, the statement says that the US Embassy has been carefully monitoring the PAT and PTI demonstrations in Islamabad.

“We continue to urge all sides to refrain from violence, exercise restraint, and respect the rule of law. Peaceful protest and freedom of expression are important aspects of democracy.”

Stressing that the US strongly opposes efforts to impose extra-constitutional changes in Pakistan, the statement says “all parties should work together to resolve differences through peaceful dialogue in ways that strengthen Pakistan’s democratic institutions and rule of law.”