US ambassador Blome affirms support for human rights to opposition leader Omar Ayub

Published May 6, 2024
PTI senior leadership in conversation with US Ambassador Donald Blome on Monday in Islamabad. — PTI
PTI senior leadership in conversation with US Ambassador Donald Blome on Monday in Islamabad. — PTI

US Ambassador Donald Blome met National Assembly opposition leader Omar Ayub on Monday and affirmed US support for continued “economic reforms, human rights, and regional security”.

In a meeting with Ayub and other senior opposition members, Blome discussed a range of issues important to the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and the US.

According to a statement issued by the US embassy in Pakistan, Blome highlighted the importance of long-term reforms for sustainable economic growth and a stable and secure future for the people of Pakistan.

He underscored the US’ support for Pakistan to engage constructively with the International Monetary Fund on its reform programme.

The ambassador highlighted the importance of the two countries’ shared interests and the many opportunities to advance shared goals, including accelerating projects addressing climate change under the Green Alliance framework, the statement said.

A separate statement issued by the PTI said Asad Qaiser, Raoof Hasan and Barrister Gohar Ali Khan were also part of the meeting that discussed the state of democracy, economy, human rights and rule of law in the country.

The PTI said that the discussion also included the “state invasion against people’s right to vote; declaratory and non-declarative restrictions on fundamental political freedoms and illegal administrative measures against freedom of expression and communication; ongoing series of extra-constitutional political revenge against hundreds of political prisoners” and the content of the US 2023 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Pakistan.

“Pakistan is in the grip of a very serious political, constitutional and economic crisis. Serious deviation from the Constitution and the worst situation of the rule of law is becoming a prelude to the destruction of the economy.

“Basic rights, political freedoms and the right to vote provided by the constitution to the citizens are the guarantors of political stability in the country,” it quoted Ayub as saying.

The PTI and its leader, Imran Khan, allege that a US official 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.

Ayub downplayed the meeting while speaking to the media, saying that the Foreign Office (FO) had informed the opposition leaders that Blome wanted to meet them.

“They wanted to meet us, they called on us. It was through an official channel which is why we met,” Ayub said.

He said that he ensured that the conversation between the two states would take place on equal terms.

“The international world must come to respect Pakistan’s rule of law,” he said.

“Foreign investment will come only when the Constitution and law are respected,” he said.

In response to his claims on foreign military bases in Pakistan, Ayub stated that his party would raise the issue with the FO, not foreign dignitaries.

FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch was questioned last week regarding Ayub’s apprehensions in the NA that Pakistan handed control of two airbases to the United States.

Mumtaz had maintained that there was no truth in the speculations, adding that the country “has no plans to offer bases to any foreign government or military directed against anyone.”

Answering a question regarding Blome’s meeting with Ayub, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai said that he had “trust in his friends” and was “glad that America came to meet Gohar Ayub’s son […] and Pakistan’s biggest party”.

“Our friends can meet whoever they want, we have trust in them,” Achakzai said while speaking alongside PTI leader Asad Qaiser in Islamabad earlier today.

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