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Jun-07-2012 03:32printcomments

Pakistan: ISI Plotted to Murder Asma Jahangir

Human Rights Ambassador William Gomes contacts Catherine Ashton with the European Union, voicing concern over targeted Human Rights Attorney in Pakistan, Asma Jahangir.

Asma Jahangir
Asma Jahangir photo courtesy: ibtimes

(SALEM) - William Gomes has addressed the dirty deeds of the Pakistani intelligence services (ISI) on a number of occasions; the agency has a reputation for carrying out threats of violence toward journalists who draw attention to both its practices, and the fate of its victims.

In threatening the life of Human Rights Attorney Asma Jahangir, who formerly chaired the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the ISI proves once again that it has no bounds or limitations to the degree of state terrorism it is willing to dish out.

At the center of the matter, as it is so often, is the precious notion of media freedom. Asma Jahangir has invested a great deal of her time advocating for media freedom and insists that her criticism of the government has been constructive and her statements made in context with existing, verifiable court documents.

Still, she revealed in a recent interview, that the ISI has indeed targeted her and the public outcry can be heard across the world.

It certainly is not the first time that this lawyer has been targeted. In fact many in Pakistan fear her message and fail to appreciate the almost indescribable importance of her role. But her words have never brought as much concern in return, as they have now; it all centers around resentment of her critique of the social and political imbalances that mar Pakistan’s society.

June 6, 2012

Baroness Catherine Ashton
High Representative of the Union for
Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Vice-President of the European Commission
European Union

Dear High Representative Ashton,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for In past I have brought different incidents of the harassment, intimidation, use of coercion, violence, and other abuses against members of the media by state security forces in Pakistan.

I am writing to express concern regarding yet another serious attempt by security agency to murder Pakistan’s most renowned human rights activist, Asma Jahangir.

Asma Jahangir, a lawyer who formerly chaired the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, has been a staunch advocate of media freedom and journalists’ rights. She has long been the target of Pakistanis of many different sorts who resent her criticism of the social and political imbalances that mar Pakistan’s society.

Asma Jahangir has revealed the details regarding the threat in an interview with Deutsche Welle. Asma was interview by Shamil Shams, where she has made clear about the very serious allegations against the Pakistani security agencies, including the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). She said “I am a very responsible person, and I do not usually make these kinds of allegations. I have been threatened many times in my life but I never went to the police and never made any hue and cry about it. I believe now it is my duty to speak up and say what is needed to be said. My sources are extremely reliable.”

She also discussed the possible reasons someone could attempt to commit murder. Jahangir said “It is true that I have been critical of them but I have never been unduly critical. I am critical of their policies, which I do not agree with. I think that, in whatever I have said – for instance in my role as a lawyer in the missing people’s cases – I have repeated what people said in court. I hoped that there would be a change in the mindset of the establishment, which unfortunately doesn’t appear to have happened.”

Asma has revealed the ongoing impunity and role of the government in the interview. She said “Well, I have sent a very clear message to the Pakistan People’s Party’s government that they are the ones who are responsible for my protection, and if my protection is not adequate I will hold them responsible. So far, some protection has been provided to me but it is not sufficient. And more importantly, I have communicated to the government that it is not for me to go to the intelligence agencies and speak to them; it is the government’s duty to talk to them. And they should not do it only for me but to change the way they deal with the people of Pakistan.”

Asma has revealed the absence of rule of law and rule of ISI in her interview. In answering the question, "You are a prominent human rights activist and lawyer. Do you think the ISI and other security agencies could kill an internationally renowned person like yourself?", she said “Let me remind you of our history. Prominent people have been killed in Pakistan just like in any other country. The difference between Pakistan and other countries is that in Pakistan nobody ever knows who is responsible for these murders. Akbar Bugti (the Baloch nationalist leader) was also a very prominent person. There was a warning that he would be killed. There was a warning that they would go after him. And when he was actually killed, nobody was held responsible.”

The interview has revealed the seriousness of the threat to murder Asma.

EU knows that Pakistan faces serious human rights challenges, including widespread killings, disappearances, and targeting of religious minorities and this specific incident; an attempt or plotting of the murder of this prominent human rights activist shows how flawed the protection of life is in Pakistan. It is the product of a dysfunctional state mechanism and absence of rule of law.

I will quote what Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch said. “A threat against Jahangir is a threat to all those in Pakistan who struggle for human rights and the rule of law.”

I urge you during your meeting with the Pakistani high official, to please ask them to immediately ensure the security of Asma Jahangir and order an investigation into the plot against Asma Jahangir and hold all those responsible to account, regardless of position or rank. Please ask the Pakistan government to take immediate initiative to bring all intelligence agencies made accountable through “parliamentary oversight.”

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

William Nicholas Gomes

Human Rights Ambassador for Salem
P.O. Box 5238
Salem, Oregon 97304

______________________________ Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes is a Bangladeshi journalist, human rights activist and author was born on 25 December, 1985 in Dhaka. As an investigative journalist he wrote widely for leading European and Asian media outlets.

He is also active in advocating for free and independent media and journalists’ rights, and is part of the free media movement, Global Independent Media Center – an activist media network for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of the truth. He worked for Italian news agency from year 2009 to 2011, on that time he was accredited as a free lance journalist by the press information department of Bangladesh. During this time he has reported a notable numbers of reports for the news agency which were translated into Chinese and Italian and quoted by notable number of new outlets all over the world.He, ideologically, identifies himself deeply attached with anarchism. His political views are often characterized as “leftist” or “left-wing,” and he has described himself as an individualist anarchist.

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