Human rights activists condemn threat to Asma Jahangir’s life

 Link to South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) statement of concern regarding the threat to Asma Jahangir 

Signatories to HRCP Press release condemning threat to Asma’s life:

Lahore, 4 June 2012: We the undersigned citizens, belonging to various sections of Pakistan’s civil society, express our serious concern and alarm at the information-leak from a responsible and highly credible source that there is a serious threat to the life of the country’s leading human rights activist and one of the most influential leaders of the bar, Ms Asma Jahangir. What makes the reported conspiracy to liquidate Asma Jahangir especially serious is, firstly, the environment of target-killings, in which dissident persons’ dead bodies are being dumped all over, and, secondly, the fact that the finger of accusation has been pointed at the extraordinarily privileged state actors. We wish to make it clear to all and sundry, especially those who preside over the security apparatus, that they must not under-estimate the consequences of any harm being caused to the life of Asma Jahangir. This is not a conspiracy against one individual alone; it is obviously a plot against Pakistan’s future as a democratic state, of which the threat to Asma Jahangir may be only one, though crucial, part. What the duty of the state in this matter is and how the civil society must face the challenge thrown to it need no elaboration. Continue reading

‘Any attempts to dislodge parliament will be resisted’

I. A. Rehman, Director HRCP:

National Dialogue on Challenges to Democracy and Role of Civil Society in Pakistan

Joint Declaration: Any attempts to dislodge parliament will be resisted

LAHORE, January 23, 2012: Civil society representative  and concerned  citizens (Intellectuals, legal activists, journalists, women, students trade union activists, religious minorities and academia) of Pakistan from all over the country shared their deep concerns over the current political situation and crises, while talking at a national consultation held in Human rights Commission of Pakistan’s office in Dorab  Patel  Auditorium, Lahore today. Continue reading

Zarteef Khan Afridi: The tribesman who showed the way

Zarteef Afridi's latest photo. Courtesy: HRCP

A tribute to the human rights activist Zarteef Khan Afridi who was shot dead recently – my article in The News on Sunday. Latitude News earlier published a shorter, different version titled In Pakistan, an unlikely hero dies for his cause. Also see my earlier article: Pakistan’s ‘enlightenment’ martyrs

The tribesman who showed the way

There was the letter from an anonymous writer saying he was going to hunt down and kill her. And then there was the letter from an Afridi tribesman offering to come down and protect her.

This was in the mid-1990s. The recipient of the letters was the fiery human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir, under threat for having taken on the case of Salamat Masih, the illiterate Christian boy sentenced to death for ‘blasphemy’ for having allegedly written sacrilegious words on the walls of a village mosque. Continue reading

“We want to attend universities, not funerals” – Young Women of Balochistan

HRCP activist lit candles on Dec 10, Human Rights Day, that they dedicated to Balochistan. But the killings and disappearances continue - as the photos on the wall testify. Photo: Reuters

Below please see a letter from Young Women of Balochistan, forwarded by a friend who received it via email on Dec 10, 2011, Human Rights Day – a day commemorated around the country and dedicated to the people of Balochistan by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (See this report by Rabia Ali). Ironically and tragically, that very day, a young Baloch human rights activist, 35-year old Faisal Mengal, was gunned down in Karachi (details in this report). As Rabia Ali reports, from July 2010 to November 2011, around 300 dead bodies were found — some even of 14-year-olds, according to Tahir Hussain, Vice Chairperson of the HRCP’s Balochistan chapter. Those killed include two HRCP activists, while the number of people missing range from 5,000 to 6,000.  Read on for this brief appeal by the Young Women of Balochistan… Continue reading

Protest against murder of Zarteef Khan Afridi: “He followed his truth till the end! Respect and Salam”

Protest rally, Hyderabad, Dec 9, 12 noon, Old Campus to Press Club.

Sharing the grief of friends who have suffered this great loss. I first heard of Zarteef Khan Afridi in 1995, when he wrote to Asma Jahangir offering to come to Lahore with a tribal lashkar to protect her when she was under threat during the Salamat Masih case. I met him later at an HRCP meeting in Peshawar. He hosted us in Khyber, showed us the little library he had opened for local children. He told us wanted his daughter to marry of her own choice and not wear a burqa, but his wife told him she would leave him if he encouraged such behaviour. “Our dear dear friend, renowned leftist and human rights activist Comrade Zarteef Khan Afridi, from Jamrud, Khyber Agency was killed this morning in Saparee area of Khyber Agency while on his way to school where he has been teaching for more than two decades. He had been receiving threats from local religious militants for his revolutionary ideology, work on peace and rights in FATA. He was a brave revolutionary and refused to bow down to the pressure. He followed his truth till the end! Respect and Salam,” writes Ismat Shahjehan. His struggle shall not be in vain.

Human rights activist Zarteef Khan Afridi killed

Photo: courtesy Idrees Kamal

Grieved beyond words to hear this news: “Renowned human rights activist and social worker Zarteef Khan Afridi is killed in Saparee area of Khyber Agency this morning while he was on his way to school where he has been teaching for more than two decades. Zarteef Afridi has been a committed human rights worker, member Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and active member of several peace groups working in FATA for last two decades. He has been receiving threats from local militants for his work on peace and rights in FATA. He was a bold and courageous worker and refused to bow down to the pressure of these militants. Till his last breath he was working for his mission and fighting for rights of tribal people. We are anguished on this brutal act and demand immediate action from law enforcing agencies against those involve in this murder. We also extend our words of condolence and to his family and all those friends that were part of his struggle. Our message shall also be conveyed to these extremists’ forces that the society will not deter from its resolve to bring peace and fight against extremism and all those forces harboring such elements in the country. Zarteef and his struggle will always be remembered and cherished.” — Email from Irfan Mufti, South Asia Partnership. For a detailed report on Zarteef Khan Afridi and his work see: In the eye of the storm. Also  see my earlier article: Pakistan’s ‘enlightenment’ martyrs

Pakistan: The ‘blasphemy’ issue | No shortcuts

Cartoon by Sabir Nazir | Viewpointonline.net

Originally published in Viewpoint Online, Nov 3, 2011

No shortcuts

Beena Sarwar

Watching Libyans celebrate the toppling of their dictator two things come to mind. First, Gaddafi’s apparent extra-judicial murder after being captured must be condemned. Secondly, a cautionary reminder: don’t expect the death or removal of a dictator to mark the end of the struggle. It is just the beginning of another struggle, an even messier one — the political process known as democracy. We in Pakistan know this all too well. Dictators die or get toppled but their legacies live on. Their creations like Zaid Hamid may lose, even as the creator Gen Zia wins (see Anas Abbas’ de-construction of this phenomenon at his blog) Continue reading

An extrajudicial murder in a Karachi park

Television reports showing a young man shot in cold blood by the Rangers in Karachi are disturbing to watch (I feel physically sick after watching it). An unidentified cameraman filmed the episode and made the footage available to TV channels – it’s online if anyone has the heart to watch it but better to read this report about the incident by AFP reporter Hasan Mansoor: Five soldiers arrested after Pakistan park killing.

The extra-judicial murder of this young man, Sarfaraz Shah, at the long, coastal Benazir Bhutto Park opposite Boat Basin (a hub of food shops and cafes) in Karachi, is a reminder of the impunity that our security forces enjoy. They claimed he had tried to rob a policeman’s family. Even if he had succeed, they had no business shooting at him. What happened to due process of law? Why aren’t the Rangers and other security people given basic human rights and legal training? Continue reading

HRCP *URGENT APPEAL*: Abduction of Mr. Muzaffar Bhutto, General Secretary of Jeay Sindh Muttaheda Mahaz (JSMM)

Sent: Monday, May 30, 2011
Subject: URGENT APPEAL HRCP: Abduction of Mr. Muzaffar Bhutto, General Secretary of Jeay Sindh Muttaheda Mahaz (JSMM)

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan requests your urgent intervention in the following situation

Description of the situation:

Mr. Muzaffar Bhutto, General Secretary of Jeay Sindh Muttaheda Mahaz (JSMM) has been abducted for the second time by the agencies. Jeay Sindh Mutttaheda Mahaz( JSMM) is a nationalist party of Sindh province, Pakistan.

He was traveling in his car with his wife and younger brother on 25 February 2011, when they reached Saeeabad Tool Plaza, Hyderabad his car was stopped by plainclothes people belonging to intelligence agencies of Pakistan and he was taken away. Continue reading

‘Pro-jihadi, anti-India’ policy #fail

“’Pro-jihadi, anti-India’ policy #fail” – my column Personal Political published in Hardnews, India, and in The News on Sunday. Many in Pakistan have been saying this for a long time, and been attacked and branded as traitors, Indian agents and kafirs for going against ‘the establishment’. Now, for the first time, this argument is in the public domain, being discussed on live television. Recently, Asma Jahangir Chairperson Emeritus of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, lashed out at the Pakistan army’s self serving policies and demanded that they stay out of politics – in words that one would never have heard on television before. Her view reinforces what I wrote a few days earlier, below (predictably, efforts are afoot to portray her as ‘anti-national, pro-Hindu, pro-India’. These efforts too, will #fail). Continue reading

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