The ripples of political polarisation in Pakistan are also being felt in the US where the body of Pakistani-American physicians stands divided over disagreement on former prime minister Imran Khan’s address.
Mr Khan will address hundreds of Pakistani physicians at an event organised by a group called ‘Friends of Imran Khan’, which now lobbies for the ex-prime minister.
The event will take place at a hotel in the Texan city, about five miles from Parkland Health where former US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Interestingly, the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America (APPNA) is also hosting its annual convention in Dallas.
The clash of the two events was not a coincidence. The group of ex-PM’s loyalists wanted him to address the APPNA convention since those who are part of the group are also members of the physicians’ body.
However, their demand was rejected by APPNA. “We have nothing against Imran Khan but APPNA don’t want to get so involved in Pakistan’s domestic policies,” said APPNA’s president, Dr Arshad Rehan.
Faced with the rejection, Mr Khan’s supporters decided to hold a parallel meeting at a venue close to where APPNA’s convention was being held.
“This is an initiative of Dr Nizam Mohmand, along with two senior PTI USA leaders, Sajjad Burki and Atif Khan,” a party spokesperson told Dawn.
Dr Mohmand is a medical consultant in Washington DC.
The seminar where the ex-prime minister will speak will be moderated by two anchors, Wajahat Khan and Moeed Pirzada, said Atif Khan, the adviser to the PTI chairman on overseas affairs.
After the seminar, the group will shift its focus to Washington, where they are hosting around 15 US lawmakers and their aides on July 26 to muster support for a hearing on Pakistan in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
APPNA is the largest and strongest group of Pakistani Americans in the US.
It usually lobbies for non-political issues — such as helping Pakistani students wanting to study here — in Washington and other power centres.
The body of Pakistani-American doctors has espoused political issues as well in the past, but they concerned Pakistan — such as countering anti-Pakistan propaganda after 9/11 — not a particular group or political party.
Over the years, APPNA managed to carry out its advocacy as a united front. But fissures started appearing last year when a group within APPNA started lobbying for ex-PM Khan after his ouster.
The group of around 1,800 doctors justify their support for Mr Khan saying that the situation in Pakistan was not just a domestic issue.
“It is about democracy, not Imran Khan,” said Mr Atif.
“We want democracy. We want elections and these are issues that concern all, not an individual or party.”
Earlier this year, ‘Friends of Imran Khan’ persuaded 68 US lawmakers to write a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. They urged him to use “all the tools at your disposal” for protecting “human rights and democracy in Pakistan”.
For APPNA’s president, Dr Khan, the issue raised by Mr Khan’s loyalists concerned democracy and human rights “but it is still a domestic Pakistani issue.”