Courtesy: Dawn News
WASHINGTON: Eleven members of the US Congress, in a letter to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, have urged the Biden administration to withhold future US assistance to Pakistan, until the country restores constitutional order and holds free and fair elections.
The lawmakers requested a legal determination from the Department of State under the Leahy Laws and Section 502(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act to assess if US-origin security assistance had facilitated human rights violations in Pakistan.
“We further request that future security assistance be withheld until Pakistan has moved decisively toward the restoration of Constitutional order, including by holding free and fair elections in which all parties are able to participate freely,” they wrote.
cases remained a substantial threat to religious freedom.”
The report also noted that the previous government in Pakistan had “weaponised the country’s blasphemy laws against former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet members”.
While acknowledging Pakistan’s significance as a long-standing ally, the lawmakers also stressed the need to address issues like restrictions on freedom of expression, speech, and religion, enforced disappearances, military courts and the harassment and arrest of political opponents and human rights defenders.
Addressing ongoing harassment and arrests, the lawmakers mentioned the cases against PTI chief Imran Khan as well, noting that he could potentially face the death penalty for allegedly violating the Official Secrets Act.
concerns and whether it will impact the dynamics of the US-Pakistan relationship.
In Washington, the focus on human rights violations underscores the delicate balance between geopolitical alliances and the promotion of democratic values on the global stage. The State Department has been markedly careful while commenting on the current political situation in Pakistan.
The issue has been raised regularly at the State Department’s daily briefings, where the spokesperson has carefully avoided making statements that could be interpreted as an expression of support for either the government or the opposition.