HRCP slams attack on NGO office
LAHORE – Condemning the attack on the Aga Khan Foundation’s Chitral office, killing two staff members and damaging vehicles and property , the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has called for urgent action for tackling growing intolerance and violent trends in society.
Expressing grave concern over the incident in a statement issued here on December 28, HRCP chairperson Tahir Muhammad Khan and Secretary General Hina Jilani said that it underscored official unwillingness to act against the violent elements behind such activity and indicated that the growing climate of intelerance was making it increasingly difficult for the NGOs to carry out their routine work.
They said that the indiscriminate shooting at the offices of the health programme in Chitral was only the latest incident involving the targeting of NGOs. Earlier this year a femals activist and driver of Khwendo Kor, a group promoting education for women in the NWFP, were injured after firing on their vehivle in Kohat.
Local and international NGOs had also been threatened throughout the year while a climate of sectarian hatred against members of Ismaili sect headed by Agha Khan had also been built up disrupting the activities of the service-based NGO run by the Aga Khan Foundation.
They said that the attacks against the NGOs had gained momentum over the past five years because no official attempt had been made to penalize those responsible under the law or curb the message of hatred being spread through speeches and sermons across the NWFP.
This could only encourage extremist elements to stage more assaults on NGOs or activists in general and those involved in promotion of rights of women in particular.
They said that the government should tackle the growing intolerance through holistic policies aimed at revising the educational curricula, rehabilitating militants and promoting greater social harmony.
In the absence of such policies, it was feared that that the existing climate of hatred, which had already led to the loss of hundreds of lives during the past years, would intensify and still greater suffering inflicted on ordinary people who had borne the brunt of the growing schisms in society, aggravated by mounting un employment, poverty and sense on helplessness prevailing among so many young people today.