Pakistan: Crisis group condemns attack on Asma Jahangir

The International Crisis Group
The International Crisis Group strongly condemns the brutal police attack on Asma Jahangir and other rights activists participating in a peaceful gathering in Lahore, Pakistan, on 14 May 2005.
Crisis Group has repeatedly warned -- most recently in our 18 April 2005 report, The State of Sectarianism in Pakistan -- that Islamabad's policy of marginalising and repressing moderate and democratic voices, and pandering to religious extremists, is destabilising the Pakistani state and undermining regional and international security.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), of which Jahangir is a founder member, and the Joint Action Committee for People's Rights, had organised last Saturday's symbolic "mini-marathon" to challenge arbitrary curbs placed by religious extremists on the participation of women in public sports and to highlight rising trends of violence against women in Pakistan.

Crisis Group Board Member Asma Jahangir, currently UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief and previously the UN Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, was targeted by the police, as they first barred the participants from proceeding with the rally and then attacked them. Jahangir, HRCP Secretary General Iqbal Haider and UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders Hina Jillani were among the 40 participants who were dragged into police vans and temporarily detained.

"President Pervez Musharraf's government and its security structures should respect constitutionally sanctioned rights of freedom of expression and association, and ensure there is no repetition of such attacks", said Crisis Group President Gareth Evans.

The HRCP and the Joint Action Committee held another "mini-marathon" on 21 May 2005, and Crisis Group urges the Pakistani government to ensure a peaceful demonstration is allowed to take place.

The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation covering over 50 crisis-affected countries and territories across four continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict. Website: