The U.S. State Department on Tuesday said it has sought from Islamabad consular access to fashion designer Khadija Shah, a suspect in the May 9 riots, with a spokesperson confirming that she is a dual national of both the U.S. and Pakistan.
“We’ve been following the case of Khadija Shah and have asked Pakistani officials for consular access to her,” said State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel during a weekly press briefing. “As we—I’ve previously said, we always urge foreign governments to allow and follow consular notifications for procedures when American citizens are detained,” he said, adding that Shah is a dual national, and Washington was continuing to engage directly with the Government of Pakistan on the issue.
Shah’s family claims she was not involved in attacks on military installations on May 9, and was participating in “non-violent” protests against the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in corruption case. Following the events of May 9, she went into hiding for nearly a week, surrendering to police only after some members of her family were brought in for questioning.
To a separate question on American citizens that had been arrested in Pakistan following the May riots, the U.S. spokesperson said he could not provide any specifics due to privacy concerns. “But of course, whenever a U.S. citizen is arrested overseas, we stand ready to provide all appropriate assistance. And we expect Pakistani authorities to respect all free—all fair trial guarantees owed to these detainees,” he added.
Patel also rejected, once again, allegations of the PTI chief that he had been ousted as prime minister through a vote of no-confidence with the “backing” of the U.S. “These allegations are categorically false; you have heard me say this before,” he stressed. “Pakistani politics are a matter for the Pakistani people to decide and for them to pursue within the auspices of their own Constitution and laws. The U.S. values our longstanding cooperation with Pakistan, and we’ve always viewed a prosperous and democratic Pakistan as critical to U.S. interests,” he said, adding that this remained unchanged.
Since his ouster in April 2022, Khan has alternated between blaming the vote of no-confidence on a “U.S. regime change conspiracy,” the Army, PMLN leader Nawaz Sharif, and caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi. The U.S. has persistently denied the claims, stressing it has no role in Pakistan’s domestic politics and does not favor any one party over another.