Prominent lawyer, human rights activist, ex-Supreme Court Bar Association president and former UN rapporteur, Asma Jahangir, is having to seek protection for her life after being made aware of a plan to assassinate her. With her well-established reputation as an outspoken advocate for the rights of women, minorities and others, Ms Jahangir has faced death threats before. However, this time around there appears to be a more sinister dynamic to the whole affair. Ms Jahangir, who has also been a vocal critic of the military’s control over the civilian government, has blatantly pointed the finger and stated that this plan to kill her has been hatched at the very top level, comprising secret agencies and their backers. She has implied this on other occasions when referring to the murdered journalist Saleem Shahzad — who was killed last year — as an illustration of what can happen to persons who anger the ‘establishment’.
Ms Jahangir has made the threats known to the bar association, which has informed the government. Rangers have been deployed outside her Lahore home and the lawyer has said she has asked the government to offer security steps advised to her by foreign experts. She has also made it clear she will not leave the country, as is expected of those facing such threats and as others in the country, perhaps not made of the same mettle have done in the past.
The situation reflects the tragedy of our country. What we need today is more voices to speak out against such abhorrent actions. Until this happens tragedies and interventions in civilian rule, such as those seen in the past will continue. The silencing dissent through threats and bullets is intended to ensure this. We must all act to prevent such an outcome by refusing to remain quiet and exhibiting the kind of courage Ms Jahangir has, and is, demonstrating. By doing so she has upheld her loyalty to the country and has exposed the extent to which certain institutions will stoop to pave an easier path for themselves.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2012.