After UN body’s report on Imran Khan, US asks Pakistan to respect people’s basic rights

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DNA

WASHINGTON: After a United Nations body decried Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan’s detention in “politically motivated” cases, the US State Department has asked Pakistan to respect people’s fundamental human rights.

Addressing a press briefing on Monday, Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said the US officials, whether that be Department of State Secretary Antony Blinken, Assistant Secretary Donald Lu or Ambassador Donald Blome, have consistently and privately and publicly urged Pakistan to respect the rights of its people in line with its constitution and international commitments.

He said this in response to a question about the resolution passed by the US House of Representatives seeking an investigation into the Feb 8 elections. The official refused to speak on the pending congressional legislation, however, he stressed upon respecting human rights.

“We urge the Government of Pakistan to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression, freedom of association, peaceful assembly, and the freedom of religion as well,” he said.

The comments from the State Department came after the Geneva-based UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared the PTI founder’s detention arbitrary and in violation of international law.

“…appropriate remedy would be to release Mr. Khan immediately and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law,” the group said.

The UN body said Khan’s legal woes were part of a “much larger campaign of repression” against him and his political party. It remarked that during the 2024 elections, members of PTI were arrested, tortured and their rallies were disrupted.

It also alleged “widespread fraud on election day, stealing dozens of parliamentary seats.”

Imran Khan’s detention ‘internal matter’

On the other hand, the State Department reiterated that Imran Khan’s detention was an internal matter of the country.

“…in the case of Khan, you’ve heard us say this before: This is an internal matter for Pakistan,” said the spokesperson.

To a question about the credibility of Pakistani elections and allegations of massive rigging, Patel said Pakistani elections continued to be an area of focus for the US.

“This is something that we have continued to raise with our partners in Pakistan, yes. That continues to be an area of focus of ours.”