US Senators Demand Suspension Of Aid To Pakistan
Eleven US Congress members, led by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, have sent a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, demanding the Biden administration cease future aid to Pakistan until constitutional order is restored and free and fair elections are conducted. The lawmakers raised concerns about potential human rights violations, emphasizing the need for a thorough assessment under the Leahy Laws and Section 502(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act.
The letter specifically stressed the importance of Pakistan returning to constitutional order through open and fair elections, expressing worries about proposed changes to reinforce the blasphemy law. They highlighted distress over the rushed passage of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2023, warning that it historically led to persecution against religious minorities. The lawmakers cited incidents post-bill passage, including attacks on churches and protests, expressing concerns about potential restrictions on religious freedom.
Led by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, the initiative involved representatives known for diverse advocacy, including Frank Pallone Jr., Joaquin Castro, Summer Lee, Ted W. Lieu, Dina Titus, Lloyd Doggett, and Cori Bush. They echoed the US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s observations and emphasized addressing restrictions on freedom of expression, speech, and religion, as well as military courts and targeting political opponents.
The letter urged US Embassy observers to monitor legal proceedings involving human rights defenders and political dissidents, citing cases involving PTI chief Imran Khan and human rights lawyer Imaan Mazari. The lawmakers expressed readiness to collaborate with Secretary Blinken for human rights, democracy, and stability in Pakistan.
While the US State Department has been cautious in response, avoiding direct support for either side in Pakistan’s political landscape, the impact on the US-Pakistan relationship remains uncertain.