“I warn you against trying to silence the sane voices in the country,” said human rights activist Asma Jahangir speaking about the threats to her life. Jahangir was speaking at a Joint Action Committee for Citizen’s Rights meeting held at the Aiwan-i-Iqbal on Friday.
She said while Pakistan also faced many external threats, the most dangerous people were those who challenged sanity in the country. The lawyer thanked her supporters for standing by her and added that it was the country she really cared for and not her life.
“If these threats are intended to make me stay at home, rest assured I will not,” said Jahangir. She said she had received threats her entire life but that had never stopped her from working. “I have never let threats dictate terms to me,” she said.
Earlier, Jahangir was welcomed by members of Labour Party Pakistan, All Pakistan Trade Union Federation and the Bonded Labour Liberation Front (BLLF) Pakistan as she entered the Aiwan-i-Iqbal.
Hundreds of people had gathered for the meeting including members of more than 30 civil society organisations including South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK), Women Action Forum, Ajoka Theatre Workshop and All Pakistan Minorities Alliance.
SAP-PK executive director Muhammad Tehseen said over the last week many people had raised their voices in concern over the threats to Jahangir. He said Jahangir had been a voice for the marginalised segments of society.
South Asian Free Media Association secretary general Imtiaz Alam said Jahangir’s life was being threatened because she had demanded that the writ of the state be established. “No state permits private militias,” he said. Alam said the people of Pakistan would not allow the democratic system to be destabilised. National Commission for Justice and Peace executive director Peter Jacob said it was unfortunate that people like Asma Jahangir were being threatened and harassed. He said it was time to raise a voice for those who had raised their voice for the well-being of their fellow men.
BLLF general secretary Syeda Ghulam Fatima told The Express Tribune said in the late ‘80s Jahangir had provided free legal counselling to and had represented several brick kiln workers. “Today brick kiln workers stand in solidarity with her,” she said.
Youth Parliament of Pakistan executive director Bilal Ahmad Rana said the issue was of serious concern and needed to be addressed by the civil society and the government.
“She is a messenger of peace,” said Senator Pervez Rashid adding that Jahangir was an internationally reputed human rights activist. “You can kill people but you cannot wipe out their legacy,” he said.
Awami National Party member Bushra Gohar sent in a message to be read at the gathering. The message read that Gohar had spoken to the prime minister about the threats to Jahangir and had urged the government to take notice of the seriousness of the matter.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2012.