Lahore: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan is deeply grieved at the killing of its Multan Task Force coordinator, Rashid Rehman, Advocate.
Rashid was a committed rights activist and lawyer and had been associated with HRCP for over twenty years.
It must be recalled that on 10 April, through a statement, the Commission had brought it to the attention of the authorities that Rashid was being openly threatened by prosecution lawyers in the Multan District Prison where he was representing a blasphemy accused. The hearing was being held in the prison due to security concerns. The judge, it was reported, did not take any notice of threats issued to Rashid in his presence. Three persons had addressed defence lawyer Rashid Rehman in the judge’s presence and said: ‘You will not come to court next time because you will not exist anymore.’
It is regrettable that no attention was paid to HRCP’s or Rashid’s concerns and nothing was done to apprehend the three persons who had threatened Rashid. In its earlier statement, HRCP had demanded that the three persons who had threatened defence lawyer Rashid Rehman in the case be “proceeded against under the law without delay and effective measures are taken to ensure the defence lawyer’s security.”
HRCP demands that cases be immediately registered against those who had threatened Rashid and his killers be brought to justice. It would be a travesty of justice for the cause of human rights and for Rashid’s family if this plea was also ignored and meaningful action was not taken.
Rashid had bravely decided to represent a blasphemy accused in a society where bigots believe that those accused do not have the right of defence. In his death, HRCP has lost a courageous and committed human rights defender. The forces of religious extremism, unchecked by the state, may have won a battle but not the war.