Imran Khan’s party urges UN to hold ‘independent and impartial’ probe into ‘state excesses’ during protest rally in Pak

Islamabad, Jun 1 (PTI) In an unusual move, ousted prime minister Imran Khan-led opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party on Wednesday sought the UN’s help to hold an “independent and impartial” investigation into what it called the “state excesses and human rights violations” by the government during a protest last week.

Khan’s supporters violently protested on May 25 in Islamabad to force the government to announce early elections and police had to resort to teargas and baton-charge to keep them under control.

Shireen Mazari, a senior PTI leader and human rights minister in Khan’s government, in a letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet alleged that the government used force against protesters and also launched politically motivated cases against party leadership.

She demanded for an “independent and impartial investigation into these state excesses and human rights violations”.

Mazari also requested the UN official to “take urgent notice of the issues raised as they not only threatened democracy in Pakistan but also the lives of former prime minister Khan, his party leadership and intervene on these with the government of Pakistan”.

She accused the government of committing “state excesses” against the PTI workers during the crackdown. She sought the UN intervention to end “harassment of the PTI members and save them from political cases against them.

Mazari also demanded that the government stop censorship of the media which she said was a violation of basic democratic norms and of the ICCPR to which Pakistan is a party .

It urged the UN to stop the government of Pakistan from denying the right to peaceful protest through repressive measures .

Mazari’s letter came a day after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif formed a committee to investigate if the PTI protesters were armed during the protest.

Earlier, former prime minister Khan said in an interview that he called off the protest as some protestors carried guns and he feared clashes and violence.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has claimed that protesters in the “Azadi March” were carrying not only guns but also automatic weapons on the orders of Khan.

Khan led his thousands of supporters of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party to Islamabad last week in a protest and had planned to stage a sit-in until new elections were announced but abruptly called off the sit-in at the last minute after making it to the capital.

However, he had threatened to return after six days if the government failed to give a date for snap polls in the country.

Khan, who was ousted from power in April through a no-trust vote, has been claiming that the no-trust motion against him was the result of a foreign conspiracy because his independent foreign policy and funds were being channelled from abroad to oust him from power. He has named the US as the country behind the conspiracy, a charge denied by Washington.