Pakistani Americans hold protest in San Francisco to bring awareness to unrest in Pakistan

A group of Pakistani Americans gathered outside the San Francisco Ferry Building on Saturday to bring awareness to the growing unrest in Pakistan following the arrest of Imran Khan, the former prime minister and popular political figure.

Khan was arrested on May 9 for not cooperating in an investigation into corruption charges. Khan’s arrest has triggered violent conflict in Pakistan between his supporters and the police. 

Protesters in San Francisco claim Pakistan's justice system has collapsed and say the government is now violating human rights. 

"People around the world should stand up against this crushing of democracy, this crushing of the people," said Salim Masdan, a protest volunteer. "[The Pakistani government] is putting people in jail, killing the journalists who speak out. If I don't stand for people around the world for justice, it will happen here."

Khan’s supporters in Pakistan have thrown rocks, Molotov cocktails and shot at polices during protests, Human Rights Watch has reported. Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, widespread violence and mass arrests. 

"The Pakistani government should uphold the right to peaceful protest while responding to violence with the minimum force needed," said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Criminal acts should be promptly investigated and appropriately prosecuted."

U.S. Sec. of State Antony Blinken has called for the rule of law to be upheld.

"We just want to make sure that whatever happens in Pakistan is consistent with the rule of law, with [their] constitution," Blinken said.