In a freezing and windy Sunday gathering outside the White House in Washington, hundreds of Pakistani Americans demanded an immediate end to the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government’s action against former prime minister Imran Khan.
The protestors sought to raise awareness of the declining human rights situation and the threat to democracy in Pakistan under Shehbaz Sharif, according to Dawn.
According to Junaid Bashir, a senior Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader in the southeastern US state of Virginia, they were there to urge the government to cease intimidating Khan.
Participants of the protest in Washington DC, in front of the White House, raised slogans in favor of Imran Khan and for genuine democracy and freedom. Pakistani-Americans demand the restoration of fundamental rights and immediate free & fair elections in Pakistan.… https://t.co/97YFK2JoOk pic.twitter.com/EJb0PNQMho
— PTI USA Official (@PTIOfficialUSA) March 20, 2023
Akbar Chaudhary, who has worked with Khan since the 1990s, believed that the incumbent rulers in Islamabad posed a threat to Pakistan and, therefore, must be removed.
Kamran Rizvi, whose Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is a part of the government, expressed his concern, calling the recent clashes between Khan’s supporters and the police backed by paramilitary units an attack on democracy and democratic values that needed to be condemned.
The protest was not restricted to men; a large number of women also took part. Khalid Tanvir, another PTI leader, argued that “the establishment must realize the mistake it is making,” and Mazhar Lillah urged the military establishment to accept civilian supremacy.
A statement was also distributed calling on the global community to take action against the “installed regime” in Pakistan. The statement demanded that the government immediately cease human rights violations and custodial torture, hold free and fair elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, stop victimising political opponents through arrests and false charges, withdraw politically motivated cases, stop curtailing press freedom, end police brutality against peaceful protestors, release political workers held on false charges, provide adequate security to Imran Khan, and hold those responsible for atrocities accountable under the law, according to the report.