Pak dissidents attract support on Capitol Hill

December 7th, 2007 - 3:44 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Dec 7 (ANI): US Congressmen and a senator have called for the supremacy of the rule of law in Pakistan, which is currently under the state of emergency.
At a meeting organised by a coalition of Pakistani-American organisations, seven congressmen and a senator delivered fiery speeches calling for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan, the Daily Times reported.
On the other hand, the image repair team of Pakistan led by Dr Nasim Ashraf fared badly on Capitol Hill with just two Congressmen turning up to listen to them.
The Coalition of Concerned Citizens, a group of seven like-minded organisations led by the Asian American Network against Abuse of Human Rights (ANAA), organised the ‘Pakistan Day on the Hill’. It was addressed by a bipartisan group of legislators namely Representatives Harry E Mitchell, Zoe Lofgren, Bill Delahunt, Steve J Israel, Nita Lowey, Trent Franks, Nick Joe Rahall, and Senator Claire McCaskell.
Calling for the restoration of the deposed judges in Pakistan, Lofgren praised former Supreme Court Bar Association President Munir Malik.
Lofgren recalled that Malik, who was his classmate at a US law school, had left a lucrative career in the US to return to Pakistan.
He said the way lawyers had been treated in Pakistan was an outrage, the daily reported.
He reminded Pakistanis that the voice of US President George W. Bush is not the voice of all America, and called for free and fair elections in Pakistan.
“How can a nation fight terrorism unless it respects the due process of law?” Lofgren asked.
Delahhunt, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said the people of Pakistan are engaged in an epic democratic struggle.
He said he was a lawyer by profession himself, adding: “I am so proud of Pakistani lawyers for speaking up. It bespoke well of this noble profession because they showed courage and honoured the very spirit of law.”
He declared, “Let me assure Pakistan’s lawyers that we will stand by them and we will continue to monitor the situation. The real United States will stand up for human rights.”
Rep Lowey, who chairs the powerful appropriations committee, confessed that she was taken aback by the events of November 3 when a state of emergency was declared by General (retd) Musharraf.
She said she “passionately” feels about the issue of democracy in Pakistan and supports those waging the present struggle.
Rep Israel said voices of dissent in Pakistan are being “squelched”, adding that in his view, the reinstatement of the judiciary is “very important.”
He compared the new oath taken by some Pakistani judges to an oath taken in October 1936 by German judges, in which they expressed their allegiance not to the German constitution but to Adolf Hitler.
“If you lose your judges, you lose your freedom. For society to progress, an independent judiciary is a must,” he said.
Rep Franks called Pakistan a vital and crucial US partner in the fight against terrorism.
Musharraf, he added, had done some good things but he had made a “terrible error” by destabilising the constitution and the very foundations of Pakistan.
He called for “government by law not by whim”.
Rep Rahall called Pakistan a friend and an ally in the war on terror.
“What should be important to America is the country, not the individual,” he stressed - a reference to Bush’s support for President Musharraf.
Senator McCaskell told the meeting that there could be no freedom without the rule of law, adding that America wants a strong relationship with Pakistan, but with a Pakistan that respects the rule of law. (ANI)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in South Asia |