A bipartisan group of 10 influential American lawmakers Saturday asked US President Donald Trump to raise the issue of human rights abuses in the Sindh province in his meeting with the visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Prime Minister Khan on Saturday left for his maiden trip to the US to have face-to-face talks with President Trump and “refresh” bilateral relations that were hit after he publicly criticised Islamabad, cancelled military aid and asked it to do more to fight terrorism.
“We are writing to urge you to raise the issue of human rights abuses in Sindh Province with Prime Minister Imran Khan when you meet with him on July 22, 2019,” said the Congressional letter, written by 10 members of the US House of Representatives.
Signatories to the letter to Trump include Congressmen Brad Sherman, Ann Wagner, Adam B Schiff, Jan Schakosky, Eleanor H Norton, Carolyn B Maloney, David E Price, Juan Vargas, David Schweikert and Dan Crenshaw. Khan is scheduled to meet Trump at the White House on Monday, July 22.
Since 2001, the US has given Pakistan more than USD 30 billion in various kinds of assistance. This aid was supposed to improve social and economic conditions in Pakistan, as well as promote good governance. “These improvements have not occurred,” the Congressmen said, according to a copy of the letter as released to the media on the eve of the arrival of Khan to Washington DC.
This is the first time that ten members of Congress have written a letter to the President of US on the Sindh issues. Democrat as well as Republican members of Congress have signed the letter. Maqbool Halepota, president of Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) in a statement emphasised on the importance of raising issues faced by Sindhis in Pakistan on a global level.
Noting that it is also for the first time that Pakistan military, intelligence and civil leadership is visiting the US together, SAPAC said it wanted to make sure the Sindhi issues is not ignored in the meetings between Pakistan and United States.
Nowhere is the failure more evident than in Sindh Province, which has continued to suffer from numerous economic and social injustices often at the hands of Pakistani government, the letter said. One recent example of this is the HIV outbreak impacting parts of Sindh Province, the Congressmen wrote.
Other injustices in Sindh province are deliberately carried out by the Pakistani state and its supporters, it said. “This is the case with forced conversions, where young Hindu and Christian girls are forced to convert to Islam. Often, they are then married off to men decades their senior,” the letter said.
The Congressmen alleged the Pakistani government terrorises Sindh Province through enforced disappearances.
Hundreds of people in Sindh have disappeared, they alleged. “As you seek to change Pakistani behaviour on issues like terrorism, it is essential that you also push the Pakistani government to improve the lives of its citizens. For this reason, we urge you to bring up these issues in your conversation with Prime Minister Khan,” the Congressmen wrote.