US lawmakers urge Blinken to pressure Pakistan to improve ‘democracy’

May 19, 2023 10:09 AM IST

The US Congressmen urged to use all the diplomatic tools--including visits, and public statements--to prevent the erosion of democratic institutions in Pakistan

Over 65 Members of the United States Congress expressed concerns about the current situation in Pakistan and urged State Secretary Anthony Blinken to pressurize the Pakistani government to improve the human rights situation in the country.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (AP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (AP)

Read here: Condemn violence publicly: Pakistan president's ‘advice’ to Imran Khan

The US Congressmen sent a letter to the State Secretary where it stated, "As proponents of a strong US-Pakistan relationship, we write to express our concerns about the current situation in Pakistan and urge you to use all diplomatic tools at your disposal to pressure the Government of Pakistan towards a greater commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law."

"This should include a commitment to investigate any infringement upon freedom of speech and freedom of assembly in Pakistan," the letter further read.

Imran Khan, who was deposed as prime minister through a no-confidence move in April last year, was arrested on May 9, the day when the country witnessed deadly protests. He was detained in the Al-Qadir Trust corruption case, but a court later declared his arrest against the law and granted him bail, The News International reported.

The deadly protests took the lives of at least 10 people and injured several others, with the authorities not only arresting the party leaders but thousands of PTI workers as well, according to The News International.

The letter, coauthored by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, was signed by 65 other lawmakers. It stated that over the past few months, the situation in Pakistan has become increasingly concerning with the blanket bans on demonstrations and deaths of several prominent critics of the government.

"We ask for your help pressuring the Government of Pakistan to ensure protestors can assert their demands in a peaceful and non-violent way, free from harassment, intimidation, and arbitrary detention. As both Democrats and Republicans who care about the bilateral relationship, we are concerned that violence and increased political tension could spiral into a deteriorating security situation in Pakistan," the letter read.

The letter further stated that as the supporters of a strong bilateral relationship between the two countries, the US Congressmen wished to commend the sustained focus on Pakistan and your efforts to provide humanitarian assistance following historic, devastating floods.

The US Congressmen urged to use all the diplomatic tools--including visits, and public statements--to demonstrate countries' interest and prevent the erosion of democratic institutions in Pakistan.

Read here: Imran Khan says for him reprimanding Pakistan army 'is like criticising my kids'

"Supporting democracy in Pakistan is in the national interest of the United States. In this critical moment, US diplomatic leadership is necessary to prevent further erosion of democratic protections. We thank you for your work and again urge you to do all you can to address this situation. We look forward to supporting you in this effort," the letter read.

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