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ISLAMABAD: A US Congressman and a member of the ruling Democratic Party, Brad Sherman has raised concerns over “continuous violation of human rights” in Pakistan and stated that the government of Pakistan and every government should respect the right of people to speak, the right to organize and the right to demonstrate.

Brad Sherman’s video statement comes after he spoke over the phone with former prime minister Imran Khan and met Dr Asif Mehmood – a Pakistani philanthropist and Democratic candidate running against Young Kim in the state’s 40th congressional district.

In a video message, Sherman, standing alongside Dr Mahmood recalled that ties between the United States and Pakistan date back to the early 1940s, and over the years the two countries had worked together on several global and regional issues.

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“America must support democracy and human rights around the world and particularly in Pakistan,” Sherman said in a video statement, shared by Musarrat Cheema, a senior PTI leader, on Twitter.

“It is not the role of the United States to involve itself in Pakistan’s internal governmental matters with respect to Pakistan’s constitutional and democratic process. But, we must not shy away from raising our voices for human rights and democracy in Pakistan or anywhere else,” the US Congressman stated.

He added that everyone wanted to see a “calm, orderly, democratic and prosperous Pakistan where Pakistanis can have the freedom to have an open and political dialogue”.

“The International Monetary Fund (IMF), with whom the country is in talks for a long-delayed loan programme, also wanted to see a stable Pakistan that followed the rule of law,” he maintained.

“I am not here to support any political office in Pakistan, I am not here to support Mr Imran, in fact, I disagree with him on a number of international issues nor is it my role to wade into Pakistan politics…“Rather I am advocating for the freedom of speech, due process and the even application of the rule of law in Pakistan,” Sherman stated.

He added that the US Congress is also monitoring the situation in Pakistan and is ready to dispense any kind of help to the government regarding human rights.

He stated that Pakistan is facing a host of internal and external challenges, adding that growing extremism, intolerance, and dissent are threatening Pakistan’s prospects for social cohesion.

Sherman also referred to the recent bombing at the Peshawar Police Lines mosque, in which nearly 80 people, mostly police personnel were killed.

“The inability of state institutions to reliably provide peaceful ways to resolve grievances is the vacuum which is being exploited by extremism,” he further stated.

The US Congressman added that he was particularly alarmed at the incidents of “custodial torture” and “sexual abuse” of PTI leaders Shahbaz Gill and Azam Swati.

Referring to the “brutal deaths” of journalist Arshad Sharif and PTI worker Zille Shah, he stated: “This is not what you would like to see in a democratic country.”

He added that equally condemnable are the cases and media bans on former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He stated that Pakistani authorities should investigate the alleged abuses and hold accountable anyone who is responsible. “Most importantly, we urge the authorities to make sure that people are free and we don’t see political figures and citizens who simply want to participate in the process, subjected to anti-democratic acts,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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