Amid Washington’s emphasis on adherence to principles of democracy in light of the ongoing political turmoil in Pakistan, US Congressman Brad Sherman has voiced concerns about the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and other party leaders.
Taking to Twitter, the lawmaker said that the government’s claim of Khan’s arrest in a corruption case seemed “inconsistent” with the arrests of PTI leaders.
In a surprise move, the former prime minister was apprehended by Rangers — acting on National Accountability Bureau (NAB), an autonomous anti-graft body in Pakistan — in the Al-Qadir Trust case. Following the event, several others including PTI Karachi’s President Ali Zaidi had also been arrested amid countrywide protests.
“My advisor Dr Mahmood tells me PTI leaders and workers are being arrested around Pakistan. This would seem inconsistent with the claim that this is just about a corruption case,” Sherman tweeted.
Taking notice of the matter, the lawmaker called for showing Imran Khan on a live stream in custody so that his supporters are assured of his safety, and also called his access to his family and lawyers.
He, however, asserted that the US “stands not with individual politicians but with human rights and free speech”.
“As I have said several times in recent months regarding #Pakistan, America is dedicated to democracy and rule of law around the world,” Sherman wrote.
Moreover, the lawmaker also stressed the importance of democracy, saying that “in a democracy, elections are held on time and the winners are allowed to govern”.
It may be noted that US congressmen and influential figures have lately been speaking in the favour of Imran Khan, especially since his party has engaged another lobbying firm in Washington.
State Dept urges govt to follow democratic norms
Earlier, US State Department urged the government of Pakistan to ensure adherence to democratic norms while dealing with current situation.
“The authorities [in Pakistan] should also respond in accordance with the rights and democratic rules,” the US States Department spokesperson said while urging the former premier’s supporters to protest peacefully.
All the protesters are urged to express their concerns peacefully, the spokesperson said in response to Geo News’ request for comment on Khan’s arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust case.
He said that the State Department was aware of the arrest but “US does not have a position” in regard with a specific political candidate or party.
“We demand respect for democratic values and the rule of law throughout the world,” the spokesman added.
UK wants to see ‘peaceful democracy’ in Pakistan
On the other hand, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said that his country wanted to see “peaceful democracy” in Pakistan. The statement came during his visit to the US
“We want to see peaceful democracy in that country. We want to see the rule of law adhered to,” the official said.
When asked about the arrest of the former prime minister, Cleverly said:
“I’m uncomfortable to speculate any further without having a detailed briefing on that.”
Imran Khan’s arrest
On Tuesday, The PTI chairman was arrested as part of NAB’s investigation in the Al-Qadir Trust case ahead of his appearance before the Islamabad High Court to seek bail in multiple FIRs registered against him.
Rangers personnel driving a black Toyota Hilux Vigo took Imran Khan away to NAB Rawalpindi.
It appears Khan got wind of his arrest hours earlier as before leaving for the court the PTI chief said: “If someone has a warrant, they should directly bring it to me. Bring the warrant, my lawyer will be there. I’m ready to go to the jail myself.”
Khan’s dramatic arrest, in which paramilitary troops had to break several doors, jump through smashed windows, and scuffle with PTI supporters and lawyers to reach the legally beleaguered firebrand politician, has sparked protests across the country.
According to Geo News, the PTI chairman was in the IHC’s biometric verification department when he was nabbed by paramilitary men. The NAB officials had arrest warrants, which had been issued on May 1 by NAB chairman Lt Gen (retd) Nazir Ahmad Butt.