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.”