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Mark C. Toner
Daily Press Briefing
Daily Press Briefing
August 23, 2016
MR TONER: Did you – I already spoke to you once. I’ll – I want to get to them. I’ll get back to you. Don’t worry.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) All right. Thank you.
QUESTION: Sir --
MR TONER: Oh, of course, sir. I’m sorry.
QUESTION: Thank you very much (inaudible). Sir, yesterday, activist of a political party, MQM, in Pakistan attacked the ARY News TV head office – my organization head office – in Karachi. One person was killed; several others were injured. Sir, what are your views about the freedom of press in a country like Pakistan?
MR TONER: Well, we’re – we’ve certainly seen the reports about these incidents. Pakistani Security Forces I think have arrested several members of the MQM, the Muttahidi – Muttahida, rather, Quami Movement. Some of these members – and also sealed their headquarters. We’re also aware of yesterday’s vandalism of an ARY News office in Karachi. Obviously, the Government of Pakistan would be the best source for further information on these events. I would just say in a democratic society, critical opinion should be encouraged, not silenced. We believe that democracies become stronger by allowing free expression from diverse voices within society, and we would certainly emphasize that any expression must be peaceful.
QUESTION: Two quick ones --
MR TONER: Yeah, of course.
QUESTION: One is just a follow-up on the MQM report.
MR TONER: Yep.
QUESTION: Do you have any concerns about the arrest of the five senior MQM leaders and the shutting down of their political headquarters? I mean, does that – are you worried that that might be sort of political – an effort to silence political – a political party, or do you think it’s just part of normal kind of law enforcement after the incident --
MR TONER: Yeah. Sure, sorry.
QUESTION: -- at the broadcaster?
MR TONER: I mean, I think we’re always concerned when members of a political party are detained or arrested. We obviously uphold the importance and believe in the importance of public assembly, freedom of speech, as long as it’s peaceful. And we would emphasize that any kind of protest, any kind of demonstrations, would need to be conducted peacefully. So I think we’re still assessing, gathering information about what took place. And we’ll reserve further comment until that time.
QUESTION: Okay. And one other --