HRCP urges mechanism for accountability of ISI

Press release, November 25 


LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has welcomed government’s announcement of disbanding the political wing of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), but urged putting in place a mechanism to hold the intelligence agency accountable.


A statement issued by the Commission on Tuesday said: “The HRCP welcomes the government’s move to disband ISI’s political wing and must stress that the measure was long overdue. However, official action to control the agency’s activities must not stop there, especially in view of its widely criticized role in enforced disappearance among other illegal practices. The HRCP implores the government to ensure that there must be a law under which the ISI operates. The government should also put in place a procedure to allow accountability of the agency’s actions in a transparent manner by parliament.”


Asma Jahangir



HRCP lauds WPAF organizers for persisting with event

Press release, November 24


LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has applauded the World Performing Arts Festival (WPAF) organizers for the fact that they continued with the festival despite a series of blasts close to the venue on Saturday.


In a statement on Monday, the Commission said: “The HRCP applauds the WPAF organizers for going ahead with the festival’s concluding ceremony and for not bowing to extremist element’s pressure and threats of sabotage.


Credit is also due to the government for improving security for the last day of the event. The HRCP believes that militants must not be allowed to kill the spirit of the people, which has been very much central to such entertainment and cultural activities, especially in Lahore.


The society and the silent majority must assert itself by coming together and exposing militant and extremist elements as the miniscule minority that they represent. It must also deny them the space they seek to create by resorting to threats, intimidation and other pressure tactics.”


Asma Jahangir


TV channels’ suspension an outrage, violates freedom of expression: HRCP

Press release, November 18

LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed grave concern at two independent news channels being taken off air in Sindh on Monday and called the action an ‘unpardonable attack on freedom of expression’.

A statement issued by the Commission on Tuesday said: “The suspension of transmission of two private sector news TV channels in Sindh yesterday was obviously the result of strong arm tactics against cable operators by people in authority, and this at a time when the anniversary of curbs imposed on one of the channels last year was being observed.

Both the federal and provincial governments have denied involvement in the suspension reminiscent of similar practices last year by General Musharraf’s dictatorial regime. The government cannot absolve itself of responsibility simply by saying that it was not behind the suspension. It must also ensure that no one else can do that. In a country where blocking transmission of illegal FM radio stations run by religious fanatics takes the government years, it is disconcerting to note the ease with which officially authorised news channels can be muzzled.

There are legal ways to address any grievances against the TV channels without resorting to such unpardonable attacks on freedom of expression.”

Iqbal Haider, Co-chairperson

HRCP alarmed at threats to Peshawar NGOs

Press Release, November 17, 2008

Lahore, November 17: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed anxiety at the growing reach of extremist elements in the NWFP, especially at recent threats by the so-called Tehreek-e-Taliban to an NGO working on development issues and women’s rights, in Peshawar.

A statement issued by the Commission on Monday said: “On top of the recent spate of targeted killings and abductions in Peshawar and generally in the NWFP by extremist elements, this escalation in threats to NGOs is not only aimed at the civil society but at whatever remains of the state’s writ in that part of the country.

In the latest threat sent to an NGO’s Peshawar office by email, the extremists’ claim of having photographic and video evidence of immoral activity by female staff – being seen with male colleagues and working in the field without wearing a veil – and asking them to ‘mend their ways’ should not surprise anyone.

The escalation in pressure and blackmail against NGOs working for public welfare has not come overnight, but is a direct result of the authorities cowing down to extremists, negotiating with criminals and ignoring clear signs of dilution of state authority.

The government must take meaningful measures without wasting any more time to ensure safety, security and freedoms of individuals, as much for the citizens’ sake as to reassert its authority in a region where extremists are filling the void left by the State.”

Iqbal Haider


HRCP wants GCU-students row resolved quickly

Press Release, November 3, 2008


LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has urged immediate resolution of the current dispute between the Government College University (GCU) administration and protesting students, against two of whom cases under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) had been lodged.


In a statement issued on Monday, the HRCP said: “While the HRCP wishes that the disagreement between the GCU authorities and the students had not taken the turn it did assume, it finds there is much to be said on both sides. The action taken by the administration was clearly not the only one available, nor was it the most appropriate choice. However, this in no way suggests that truancy and indiscipline among students should be tolerated or the academic tradition of any institution violated.


HRCP is relieved to note that the matter is moving towards a resolution now and emphasises that it should be resolved forthwith.”


Iqbal Haider

Co-chair, HRCP