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Blinken Urged To Push For Democracy

A total of 66 US lawmakers recently requested Secretary of State Antony John Blinken to push for Democracy and Human Rights in Pakistan, as the South Asian nation has been going through political crises since the ousting of former Prime Minister Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi through a No Confidence Motion in April 2022. It was clearly mentioned in the letter that “supporting Democracy in Pakistan is in the national interest of the United States”. The lawmakers made the request on May 18, 2023, as the Joe Biden Administration in Washington DC is reluctant to interfere in Pakistan’s current political dispute.

In their letter to the US State Secretary, the lawmakers stated: “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.” They further requested Blinken to ask Islamabad to “investigate any infringement upon Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly in Pakistan”.

The lawmakers sent the letter to the State Secretary after the US State Department hinted that Washington DC would not favour any particular political outfit or candidate in Pakistan. Earlier, Spokesperson of the Department Vedant Patel stressed: “You have heard me say this a number of times now, for the past few weeks, but I will use this opportunity to say again that we do not choose a political party or a particular candidate when it comes to Pakistan.” He further said: “As it relates to Pakistan, our view is that a strong, stable, prosperous Pakistan is key to a strong and stable US-Pakistan relationship.

Interestingly, the Pakistani American Political Action Committee (PAKPAC), which initiated the move, slammed all the 66 lawmakers for sending the letter to State Secretary Blinken. Reports suggest that the State Secretary received the letter, co-authored by Democrat Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, days after the detention of former Prime Minister Khan. His arrest sparked protests, as the supporters of Khan took to the streets in major Pakistani cities. They also got involved in violent clashes with law enforcement personnel. Clashes claimed at least 10 lives, while protesters ransacked several government buildings and set them on fire.

The PAKPAC issued the statement on May 18, mentioning: “This alarming turn of events has sparked immense concern amongst the Pakistani-American community and amplified the urgency for immediate action to protect Democratic Institutions, Independent Judiciary, Freedom of Press and Human Rights in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, PAKPAC President Asad Malik highlighted the importance of providing bipartisan (Democrats and Republicans) support to the people of Pakistan during this turbulent period, stating: “At this critical juncture, with the foundations of Democracy in Pakistan under threat, it is heartening to see members of both parties uniting to express their deep concern and stand up for the principles we hold dear.” He added: “The bipartisan support for this letter demonstrates the unwavering commitment of our elected officials to upholding Democracy and Human Rights, regardless of our political differences.

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