The US State Department has clarified that Assistant Secretary Donald Lu’s upcoming appearance before a Congress panel is a routine testimony that aligns with the regular practice of US officials providing updates to Congress.

The House Subcommittee on the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia will hold a hearing titled “Pakistan After the Elections: Examining the Future of Democracy in Pakistan and the US-Pakistan Relationship” on March 20.

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

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

This matter is often raised during US State Department news briefings by journalists from both Pakistan and the US. The department consistently refutes these allegations as baseless.

Lu, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, is currently the only confirmed witness for the hearing, although additional witnesses may be included.

“Any number of State Department officials testify all the time before Congress. We see it as an important part of our jobs to help Congress do its job, both from a policymaking perspective and from an oversight perspective,” said State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller when asked about the scheduled hearing at a news briefing on Thursday.

“So we always look forward both to the informal conversations we have with Congress, the formal conversations, and of course the actual testimony that our officials provide,” he added.

When asked if the department was concerned about Lu’s safety during the hearing due to previous threats, Miller stated, “Of course, we take any threats towards US officials seriously and condemn any effort to threaten the safety and security of our diplomats.”

The spokesperson reiterated the rejection of allegations against Lu regarding the toppling of former prime minister Imran Khan, stating, “The underlying allegations against Assistant Secretary Lu, they’re false. They’ve always been false. You’ve heard me say that more than once, more than twice, more than ten times probably.”

In a statement from Houston, Texas, the PTI’s US chapter had 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.

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