WASHINGTON: The US House Foreign Affairs Com­mittee has tasked its Subcommittee on the Mid­dle East, Africa, and Cen­tral Asia with conducting a hearing on the future of democracy in Pakistan, scheduled for March 20.

The hearing will also delve into the dynamics of US-Pakistan relations following the Feb 8 general elections.

Donald Lu, the Assis­tant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, will be the sole witness for the hearing.

Mr Lu’s alleged involvement in the cipher controversy adds significance to his testimony.

The PTI and its leader, Imran Khan, allege that Mr Lu threatened to destabilise the PTI government during a March 2022 meeting with then Pakistani ambassador in Washing­ton, Asad Majeed Khan.

The issue is frequently brought up during US State Department news briefings by journalists from both Pakistan and the US. The department consistently dismisses these allegations as unfounded.

The decision to have Mr Lu attend the hearing un­­derscores the departm­e­nt’s desire to resolve the controversy by providing clarification on its stance.

In a statement from Houston, Texas, the PTI’s US chapter claimed that “persistent efforts” by Pakistani Americans led to the much-anticipated announcement of a Congressional hearing on this.

This bipartisan hearing is expected to draw significant attendance from both Democratic and Repub­lican legislators.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2024

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