Nov 7, 2007

International Crisis Group release

International Crisis Group
date Nov 7, 2007 4:53 PM
subject Pakistan: Release Crisis Group Board Member Asma Jahangir


Pakistan: Release Crisis Group Board Member Asma Jahangir
Return the Country to Its Constitutional Order

Brussels, 6 November 2007: The International Crisis Group calls on Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf to immediately release its Board member, Asma Jahangir, the prominent human rights advocate, and restore the country’s constitutional order.

Forces loyal to Musharraf rounded up hundreds of political and civil society leaders after his imposition of martial law at the weekend. Dr Jahangir – Chairperson of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), UN Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Religion or Belief, and Crisis Group Board member – was placed under house arrest for 90 days, along with scores of other HRCP members.

"Asma Jahangir must be freed at once," said Lord Patten of Barnes, Co-chair of the Board of Crisis Group. "Musharraf’s actions are completely unconstitutional, and he has no legal basis to hold Asma or any of the others wrongfully detained over the past few days."

Thomas Pickering, fellow Crisis Group Co-chair, said, "What has happened to Asma has happened to countless Pakistanis – the political opposition, civil society, the judiciary and the media are all under attack. Asma and the others must be set free, and fundamental freedoms must be restored in Pakistan right away."

The international community must urge Musharraf to reverse his dangerous course without any delay.

"Asma Jahangir is unlawfully detained just as her country’s constitution has been illegally suspended," said Gareth Evans, Crisis Group President. "For her sake and for the good of the whole country, Musharraf must be made to reverse his decrees. Only a legitimate democratic order can save Pakistan from a descent into further turmoil."

Contacts: Andrew Stroehlein (Brussels) 32 (0) 2 541 1635
Giulia Previti (Washington) 1 202 785 1601

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