US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, Not Allowed to Meet with Lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, Who is Under House Arrest

Contact: Contact in Pakistan: 0308-204-2346
December 3rd, 2007

US Activists Confront Patterson About US Government's Support for Musharraf

Anne Patterson, US Ambassador to the Pakistan, went to the home/office of Pakistani lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, but was not allowed to meet with him because he is under house arrest. The Ambassador met with Mr. Ahsan's wife, Bushra Ahsan, and colleagues. Emerging from the meeting, she addressed the press and called for the release of Mr. Ahsan. The Ambassador, however, did not call for the reinstatement of the judiciary or the lifting of restrictions on the press.

At the end of her brief remarks, two visiting US human rights activists who had spent the previous 24 hours at a vigil at Mr. Ahsan's home, Medea Benjamin and Tighe Barry, confronted the Ambassador. They shouted: “Why is the Bush Administration continuing to support Musharraf? He is not a democrat. He is beating and imprisoning lawyers, judges and students. The U.S. should support the real democrats—civil society—not Musharraf.” They were pushed and shoved by the Ambassador's security detail, but they kept repeating the remarks as the Ambassador was whisked away in her car. The activists represent the human rights group Global Exchange and the peace group CODEPINK.

Afterwards, Pakistani lawyers did their own press conference, relating the stories of the terrible treatment they received when beaten and jailed by the police after the imposition of Emergency Rule on November 3. They called for the freeing of Atizar Ahsan and all the lawyers and judges who remain in detention, and the restoration of an independent judiciary.