Pakistan: Call to murder must not go unpunished

South Asia Citizen's Wire
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has been shocked to receive a copy of a horrifying Fatwa’ (edict) issued by a cleric in the Darra Adam Khel area of the NWFP and has written to the interior minister asking him to do his duties.
The edict labels international organizations, including those falling under the UN umbrella and the International Red Cross, as well as local NGOs working for human rights, as agents of the Jews and the West.
Most alarmingly, the Fatwa’ declares that it falls among the duties of all Muslims to target these organizations all over the world by murdering their members, using weapons of mass destruction against them, destroying their homes, targeting their vehicles and seizing their assets.

This Fatwa’ is only one among many issued this year in the NWFP targetting NGO activists, particularly women. Three women working with NGOs were murdered in the NWFP in 2006 alone. Another Fatwa’ issued by a cleric in Mansehra, has called on NGOs to pull out from the Hazara area or face action against themselves. HRCP has received many other complaints of harassment or intimidation, which has already led to some organizations curtailing their activities in the NWFP.

What is far more disturbing than the threats themselves is the failure of authorities to prosecute those responsible for making them. The latest Fatwa’, like many others distributed previously, is not anonymous. Its author has affixed to it his name and qualifications. The Fatwa’ has also been pasted up as posters across the Darra Adam Khel area. Therefore, the authorities cannot claim they are unable to trace the source of incitement to hatred and murder. Pretending ignorance of those guilty of preaching violence amounts to collusion.

The latest call to kill is an outcome of a failure to act previously against those delivering such messages of hatred. HRCP can only call upon those in authority to act now, before it is to late, and some of the terrible crimes called for are carried out.

Asma Jahangir, 19 December 2006