An influential U.S. Congressman has raised concerns over the continuous violation of human rights and democracy in Pakistan and asked the government to ensure freedom of speech and the application of rule of law in the country.
"There is concern over the increasing incidents of violence in Pakistan," tweeted Congressman Brad Sherman, who is also a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
In a video statement, shared by a leader of ousted prime minister Imran Khan’s party, Mr. Sherman reminded Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif-led government about its obligation to take action against those who violate human rights.
“We will not hesitate from raising our voice against human rights violations," said Sherman, a Democrat representing California’s 32nd congressional district.
Earlier, he tweeted that he spoke over the phone with Imran Khan and met Asif Mehmood, a Pakistani philanthropist and Democratic candidate running against Young Kim in the state’s 40th congressional district, Dawn newspaper reported.
"Ties between the US and Pakistan date back to the early 1940s, and over the years the two countries had worked together on several global and regional issues," Mr. Sherman said in a video message in which he was standing alongside Mehmood.
“America must support democracy and human rights around the world and particularly in Pakistan,” he pointed out.
“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," he said.
Commenting on the politics of Khan, the American politician said: "I have no interest in supporting Imran Khan or any political party, and have disagreements with him on many issues." Mr. Sherman — who has been fulfilling responsibilities in the foreign affairs committee for 26 years — further said that Pakistan should allow its citizens to express themselves and hold peaceful protests.
The congressman stated 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”.
He went on to say that 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.
Mr. Sherman highlighted that the country was facing a host of internal and external challenges, saying that growing extremism, intolerance, and dissent were threatening Pakistan’s prospects for social cohesion.
Since the ceasefire agreement between the Tehreek-e-Taliban (Pakistan) TTP and the government broke down last year in November, terrorists have stepped up attacks on security forces and installations and even on mosques and markets in different parts of the country but Karachi has for some time now not witnessed any major incident.
“The inability of state institutions to reliably provide peaceful ways to resolve grievances is the vacuum which is being exploited by extremism.” He also criticised the cases and media bans on former prime minister Khan.
“I am not here to support any political office in Pakistan, I am not here to support 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,” Mr. Sherman stated.
He added that the U.S. Congress was monitoring the situation in Pakistan and was ready to dispense any kind of help to the government regarding human rights.