Pakistani physicians seek US help to protect Imran

Published March 17, 2023
PTI workers protest against the attempt to arrest Imran Khan in Virginia.—Tanvir Khalid
PTI workers protest against the attempt to arrest Imran Khan in Virginia.—Tanvir Khalid

WASHINGTON: More than 500 Pakistani physicians in the US have signed a letter for US lawmakers, sharing their concerns about threats to the safety of former prime minister Imran Khan.

“These are not just PTI supporters. These are physicians from different social and political backgrounds,” claimed Atif Khan, adviser to the PTI chairman on overseas affairs. “There’s only one common factor: all of them are worried about Imran Khan’s safety.”

Another group called Pak PAC (Public Affairs Committee), which usually campaigns in the US Congress on community issues, has also circulated a similar letter, expressing concerns about the current political situation in Pakistan.

Both groups have urged their members to send letters to their local lawmakers as well to chairpersons of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Local PTI groups in Virginia and other states are also drafting a similar letter, which they plan to send to US lawmakers and senior members of the Biden administration.

“We are writing to urgently bring to your attention the critical situation in Pakistan. The safety and well-being of millions of citizens, including our families and loved ones, are at risk due to the current government’s human rights violations, suppression of dissent, and threats to the safety of former PM Imran Khan,” says the letter the physicians wrote.

Urging the lawmakers to address their concerns, the physicians wrote: “We believe that the current situation in Pakistan demands immediate attention and action to prevent the country from sinking into another decade of military rule and darkness.”

As Pakistani-American citizens, “we are seeking your support to ensure that the voices of the Pakistani people are heard, and their human rights are protected”.

Explaining why they want US lawmakers to focus on Pakistan’s domestic politics, the physicians argued: “We believe that with the support of the international community, we can prevent the country from falling into an abyss of darkness.”

“We urge you to take immediate action and work with the international community to protect the human rights of all citizens in Pakistan.”

The PAK PAC letter said that media reports of human rights violations by the Pakistani government had alarmed them, and they want US lawmakers to use their influence to stop Pakistani rulers from “torturing and abusing” PTI workers and to end the siege of Imran Khan’s home in Lahore.

Assad Chaudhry, a founding member of another group called the American Pakistani Public Affairs Committee (APPAC), however, urged all political parties in Pakistan to show maturity.

“Imran Khan can play a vital role to strengthen the political system and economic revival,” he said. “We need tolerance and coexistence.”

Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2023

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