WASHINGTON – The United States has called on Pakistan to investigate the killing of a lawyer and human rights activist shot dead for defending a university lecturer accused of blasphemy.
“We were deeply saddened by the murder of Rashid Rehman, an attorney and human rights defender in Pakistan,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters. “We encourage authorities, as we have in similar cases in Pakistan and around the world, to swiftly investigate this crime and bring to justice those responsible.”
Gunmen stormed Rehman’s office late May 7 and started firing indiscriminately, killing him and injuring two others. Psaki spoke as Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns was visiting Pakistan at what he said was a moment of opportunity in US-Pakistan ties.
“After some difficult years, our relationship is on a positive trajectory – a trajectory we hope to not only maintain, but accelerate,” Burns said in a statement. Washington supported the prime minister’s bid to reestablish authority over all Pakistani territory in whatever way Pakistan deems appropriate.
And the US wanted to “especially urge him to sustain pressure on militant groups, deny them a safe-haven, and prevent cross-border attacks,” Burns said. “Militancy continues to threaten Pakistan’s revival. Few countries have paid a heavier price than Pakistan in the fight against extremism.”