Eleven members of the US Congress have penned a letter to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, calling for the Biden administration to halt future US assistance to Pakistan until the country restores constitutional order and conducts free and fair elections.
In their letter, the lawmakers urged the Department of State to assess whether US-origin security assistance had contributed to human rights violations in Pakistan under the Leahy Laws and Section 502(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act.
They specifically emphasized the need for Pakistan to move decisively towards reinstating constitutional order, especially by holding open and fair elections where all parties can participate without hindrance.
The letter highlighted concerns regarding Pakistan’s intent to reinforce the blasphemy law, cautioning that the proposed changes might further suppress smaller religious groups and minorities.
Expressing distress over the passing of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2023, the lawmakers stressed that strengthening the blasphemy law historically resulted in persecution against religious minorities. They noted the rushed passage of the bill despite calls for a more thorough parliamentary process.
Additionally, the letter referred to incidents post the bill’s passage, including a mob attack on churches and homes of Christians in Jaranwala and protests by the Shia community in Gilgit-Baltistan. The lawmakers raised concerns about potential restrictions on freedom of religion should the bill come into effect.
Led by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, the initiative also involved representatives like Frank Pallone Jr., Joaquin Castro, Summer Lee, Ted W. Lieu, Dina Titus, Lloyd Doggett, and Cori Bush, known for their advocacy on diverse issues, including the Palestinian cause.
They underlined the vulnerability of religious minorities to blasphemy-related prosecution or violence, echoing the US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s observations. The lawmakers stressed the need to address restrictions on freedom of expression, speech, and religion, enforced disappearances, military courts, and the targeting of political opponents and human rights defenders.
Highlighting cases involving PTI chief Imran Khan and human rights lawyer Imaan Mazari, the letter urged US Embassy observers to monitor legal proceedings of human rights defenders and political dissidents in emblematic cases.
The lawmakers expressed willingness to collaborate with Secretary Blinken to advance human rights, democracy, and stability in Pakistan, signaling their hopes for a more equitable future for Pakistanis.
While the US State Department has been cautious in its response, avoiding direct support for either side in Pakistan’s political landscape, it remains uncertain how these concerns will shape the US-Pakistan relationship.
Pakistani rupee advanced its winning momentum against US dollar, and other currencies in the open market amid strong economic cues.
On Saturday, the US dollar was being quoted at 285.15 for buying and 287.95 for selling.
Euro moves down to 309.9 for buying and 310.5 for selling. British Pound rate stands at 359.4 for buying, and 360.05 for selling.
UAE Dirham AED also moved down to 77.45 whereas the Saudi Riyal drops to 75.82.
|UK Pound Sterling||GBP||359.4||360.05|
|Hong Kong Dollar||HKD||36.38||36.48|
|New Zealand Dollar||NZD||173.44||175.44|
The price of gold fell by thousands of rupees as precious metal lost shine despite an upward trend in the international market.
On Saturday, the price of a single tola of 24-karat gold stands at Rs217,300 and 10 grams of 24k gold costs Rs186,300.
Meanwhile, single tola of 22 Karat gold costs Rs199,190, 21 karat rate costs Rs190,138 and 18k gold rate is Rs162,975.
Globally, gold prices hover at around $2072, gaining $32 on Saturday.
|Lahore||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Karachi||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Islamabad||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Peshawar||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Quetta||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Sialkot||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Attock||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Gujranwala||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Jehlum||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Multan||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Bahawalpur||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Gujrat||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Nawabshah||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Chakwal||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Hyderabad||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Nowshehra||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Sargodha||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Faisalabad||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|
|Mirpur||PKR 217,300||PKR 2,705|