Key US senator expresses concern over human rights situation in Pakistan

Senator Bob Menendez says US does not want turmoil but stability in Pakistan

Nasim Haider
US Senator Bob Menendez walks through the Senate subway on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 19, 2022. — Reuters
US Senator Bob Menendez walks through the Senate subway on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 19, 2022. — Reuters

  • "We look for stability, not turmoil," US Senator Menendez says.
  • Congresswoman Jackson to write to President Biden on Pakistan's situation.
  • Senator John Cornyn promises to raise matter in US Senate.

As Pakistan's government continues crackdown against vandals involved in May 9 mayhem, lawmakers in United States voice concerns regarding the state of human rights in the country.

One of the influential American legislators Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Senator Bob Menendez is also among those who have expressed apprehension over the arrests and trial of May 9 attackers in the country, as its grapples with an intense political crisis.

The senator has voiced concerns regarding the treatment meted out to leaders, workers and supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after their arrests in the wake of the May 9 vandalism.

In a meeting with Pakistani-American doctor Asif Mahmood, who was also a Democratic candidate for Congress, Senator Menendez said that the US doesn’t want turmoil but stability.

The senator said he is deeply concerned about innocent Pakistani-Americans detained in Pakistan and will continue to advocate for the respect of human rights in the country.

During this meeting in California, Dr Mahmood told Senator Menendez that Pakistan is facing a democratic and human rights crisis. He also demanded US intervention in the situation.

PTI USA Official Twitter shared a video of the senator speaking with Dr Mahmood during which he said: "We look for stability, not turmoil. And that means respecting human rights and the rule of law."

Meanwhile, PTI leaders in the US also held meetings with other American senators. The party’s US leaders Sajjad Burki and Atif Khan met with Senator John Cornyn in Dallas, Texas.

They claimed that the senator assured to raise the matter in the US Senate and that a bill will be passed with consensus from both the Republicans and Democrats, while the attention of the US State Department will also be drawn towards the issue.

Sheila Jackson, the head of the Pakistan caucus in the US House of Representatives, has also expressed concern over reports coming out of Pakistan. The lawmaker said that she was concerned about the lack of protection for peaceful protesters.

"As the founder and chair of the US House’s Congressional Pakistan caucus, I am extremely concerned about the reports that are coming out of Pakistan of human rights abuses and the lack of protection for those who express peaceful opposition to the government," she tweeted.

The congresswoman added that she was "particularly concerned that the former head of state has been arrested multiple times and there appears to be no provisions for a just response to this apparent unfairness and to those who should have rights to a free, safe and unfettered protest."

Congresswoman Jackson said she'll be writing to President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken to ask them to "insist on the ending of these human rights violations against the opposition and others."

"And additionally, to ensure that we continue to promote the US and Pakistani relationship and a democratic Pakistan," she wrote in her tweet.

Senator Menendez, Senator Cornyn and Congresswoman Jackson’s statements come at a time when preparations to organise a conference on the human rights situation in Pakistan next month at Capitol Hill are underway. The conference is set to take place in the third week of June.

The PTI has remained much more active in the US than any other Pakistani political groups, which is why the leaders of the Imran Khan-led party have met dozens of Congress members who are also expected to participate in the conference.