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Pakistan Slams ‘Distorted’ Letter by US Congress Members on Protests in the Country

© AP Photo / Muhammad SajjadSupporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan block a road as protest against the arrest of their leader, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, May 10, 2023.
Supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan block a road as protest against the arrest of their leader, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, May 10, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 25.05.2023
Nearly 60 US Congress members claimed they were “deeply troubled by the “democratic backsliding and human rights abuses" in Pakistan in early May, when riots erupted in the country following Imran Khan's arrest.
Islamabad says the letter sent by US Congress members to State Secretary Antony Blinken on the alleged human rights violations against supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan contains “distorted facts”.
The letter, co-authored by Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, urges Blinken to “pressure” Pakistan towards a greater commitment to democracy and human rights by using all “diplomatic tools” at Washington’s disposal.
“The letter sent by the US Congressmen to Antony Blinken contained distorted facts. All actions regarding the events of May 9 are being taken in accordance with the Constitution and laws,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Baloch told a press briefing on Thursday.

Pakistan on Fire

On 9 May, violent protests erupted across major Pakistani cities after Khan, who heads Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was arrested by federal law-enforcement agency Rangers from the Islamabad High Court for allegedly receiving a parcel of land from a property tycoon to run the Al-Qadir University.
The ensuing protests by Khan’s supporters saw them vandalizing a dozen military installations across the country, including storming the Army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, an unprecedented happening in a country where the military has wielded significant influence on domestic politics.
The protests led to a massive police crackdown leading to 10 deaths and over 2,000 arrests. The PTI claims that over 40 of PTI supporters were killed in the clashes and over 10,000 of them have been arrested by the law-enforcement agencies.
A government employee displays an old picture to media members inside the Radio Pakistan building burnt in the Wednesday's clashes between police and the supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Thursday, May 11, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 11.05.2023
Sputnik Specials
Here's What Peshawar Looks Like as Civil Unrest Engulfs Pakistan
On May 11, Pakistan’s Supreme Court called his arrest “illegal” and ordered his “immediate release”. Khan was subsequently granted bail by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
However, Pakistan’s military and Shehbaz Sharif’s government have vowed to avenge the attacks by Khan’s supporters at the military installations, saying that the protestors attacked the "idea and identity of Pakistan and gave the enemies of the country reasons to celebrate".
In the last week or so, several of Khan’s senior party colleagues have been arrested or have quit the party amid a growing crackdown on PTI.
The Pakistan government has also invoked a constitutional provision in several provinces-- Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan—which allows it to call in the military to help the civil administration.
Khan has challenged the government’s decision in the Supreme Court, describing the overall situation as an “undeclared martial law”.