Pakistan flags in Ottawa Parliament Hill

A substantial crowd congregated in front of the Parliament Hill building in Ottawa, demonstrating their opposition to the human rights violations in Pakistan. On June 14th, 2023, Pakistani Canadians appealed to the Canadian federal government, urging them to engage with Pakistan’s foreign ministry and raise concerns regarding the human rights situation in the country.

Pakistan is currently undergoing one of the most severe political upheavals in its history. The state, police, and other governing institutions have employed drastic measures to suppress the protesters and large gatherings. This has involved the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, physical assaults, and various other methods to instill fear among the public. Disturbing videos circulated on social media, depict women being dragged, struck, pushed, and subjected to verbal and sexual harassment. Men have been treated inhumanely while in custody, children have been separated from their parents for extended periods, and the elderly have endured mental torture.

Prominent leaders like Imran Khan are facing an onslaught of over a hundred cases. The range of charges against Imran Khan spans from corruption to civil, criminal, and state terrorism. Analysts argue that these cases are likely baseless and driven by political motivations aimed at eliminating him from the political landscape. It appears that the current government is employing every possible tactic to delay general elections until Imran Khan is no longer a factor. To weaken his party, numerous senior politicians have been coerced into resigning, some have been enticed with promises of power, money, and titles, while others have been blackmailed, threatened, and subjected to mistreatment in detention. Many politicians affiliated with Imran Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), have been arrested on criminal charges, only to be released without any charges once they declare their separation from PTI. Despite widespread calls for elections through protests across the country, people are apprehensive about taking to the streets due to the climate of fear established by the authoritarian government, and they are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to participate in elections.

The current government of Pakistan not only perpetuates human rights violations but also attempts to justify them. Consequently, Canadian Pakistanis, much like people around the world, have chosen to voice their concerns and demand civil rights, freedom of speech, freedom of choice, and a liberated Pakistan. A protester in Ottawa expressed, “Canada is a nation that understands the value of freedom and human rights, and we aspire for the same in Pakistan. That is why we are here, urging the Canadian government to exert pressure on Pakistan.”