“We are writing to express our concerns about media reports on the current situation in Pakistan that violate human rights and democratic principles that we hold dearly as Pakistani Americans in the United States,” said PakPAC National Board in a letter to Secretary Blinken. Police and paramilitary Rangers have been fighting pitched battles with the supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan outside his residence in Lahore’s Zaman Park neighborhood.
PAKPAC is deeply concerned by the human rights violations currently unfolding in Pakistan and has sent the below letter to @SecBlinken, @SenatorMenendez, @SenatorRisch, @RepMcCaul, and @RepGregoryMeeks pic.twitter.com/x0AMN0CRcZ
— PakistaniAmericanPAC (@PAKPAC) March 14, 2023
The government of Mian Nawaz Sharif, widely believed to have been installed by the military, with the help of state institutions has been running a brutal suppression campaign on freedom of press, speech, and association. The situation in Lahore has caused widespread fear, concern, and anger within the Pakistani Diaspora, a large majority of which supports Khan.
The Pakistan-American Political Action Committee is a national non-partisan organization that was founded in 1989 to educate the community on pressing policy debates and provide them with a platform to influence these debates.
The letter, dated March 14th, said there were reports that the Pakistani government has allegedly tortured and abused certain members belonging to the PTI political party in the last 72 hours with mass protests taking place outside the residence of former prime minister Imran Khan.
“The government of Pakistan and its state institutions have failed to create a safe and peaceful environment for its people in order to foster free and secure democratic elections,” the Washington DC-based PakPAC said in its letter to America’s top diplomat. It said the recent bombing in Peshawar Police Lines mosque in which over 100 people were martyred, the brutal death of journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya last year as well as the PTI worker Zille Shah during the March 8 election rally in Lahore serves as just some recent and ongoing disturbing examples that the government of Pakistan to respect the right of people to speak, protest peacefully, and to demonstrate safely without persecution and violence.
Instead of launching an impartial investigation into the death of Zille Shah, the Punjab government filed a murder case against Imran Khan, but later changed its statement, saying Zille Shah died in a road accident. Sections of Pakistani media accuse the country’s premier intelligence agency, the ISI, of being involved in the murders of both Shah and Arshad Sharif. The military has strongly rejected such accusations.
“We urge Congress and the Biden administration to immediately address these humanitarian issues with the government of Pakistan and urge their political leadership and institutions to embrace the freedom of speech, and due process and strive to hold free and open democratic elections,” the letter added.