Monday June 17, 2024

US VP, Democrat Mahmood discuss Pakistan's political crisis

Meeting with US VP Kamala Harris comes at time when political crisis in Pakistan remains tense

By Nasim Haider
April 15, 2023
Pakistani-American Democrat Dr Asif Mahmood (right) meets US Vice President Kamala Harris in this undated photo in California, United States. — Photo by author
Pakistani-American Democrat Dr Asif Mahmood (right) meets US Vice President Kamala Harris in this undated photo in California, United States. — Photo by author

WASHINGTON: United States Vice President Kamala Harris recently met leading Pakistani-American Democrat Dr Asif Mahmood where their discussions revolved around the ongoing political crisis in Pakistan.

The meeting with the top-level US office-holder took place in California at a time when the political crisis in the South Asian nation continues to remain tense.

Mahmood, who spoke with Geo News, confirmed the development without delving into the details of the discussion. His only comments mentioned that he "met and talked to Vice President Kamala Harris."

Two sources present at the meeting shed light on the discussion which revolved mostly around the political crisis in Pakistan.

According to sources, Mahmood highlighted alleged human rights violations and informed Harris about the latest cases against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and the threats to his life.

Mahmood also told Harris about the arrests of PTI leaders and workers and claimed that the rights of freedom of expression and political gathering are under threat in Pakistan.

He lamented that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government has rejected the Supreme Court verdict and instead created hurdles in electioneering.

To him, free, fair and timely elections are the only way to solve the political and economic crisis, the sources told this scribe.

Earlier, Mahmood met a number of US Congresspersons — including Brad Sherman, Ted Lieu, Eric Swalwell, Gregory Meeks, Ro Khanna, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, Jacky Rosen, Mike Levin and Linda Sanchez.

He had also connected a number of them to Khan by arranging telephone calls.

It was on his recommendations that ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Brad Sherman wrote a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In the letter, Sherman demanded Blinken "to guide United States foreign policy toward a greater commitment to human rights and to use all US diplomatic channels to urge Pakistan authorities to investigate the alleged abuses and to hold accountable anybody who may be responsible."

Sherman has now tried to clarify that his letter should not be considered as a support for Khan.

Yet, he had clearly stated that “I am particularly alarmed by incidents over the last year, especially the alleged torture and even sexual abuse of political figures such as former PM Khan's Chief of Staff Shahbaz Gill and journalist Jameel Farooqui.’

Mahmood is the first Pakistani-American who contested for Congress in the last Mid-term elections. He lost to incumbent Young Kim in California District 40 but rubs shoulders with top Democrat leaders.

It became more evident when VP Harris endorsed and advocated for his campaign. Basically, it was payback as during the presidential elections primaries. Mahmood had preferred to support Harris over Joe Biden.

Other admirers include former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton who had honoured Mahmood by arranging his political event. It was the first-of-its-kind campaign event for any Pakistani-American politician.