The South Asians Against Terrorism & For Human Rights (SAATH) Forum denounces the attempt by Pakistan’s state functionaries to hound the Forum member Gul Bukhari.
We condemn in the strongest terms, the reported notice by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Anti-Terrorism Wing to our founder-member, human rights activist and journalist, Gul Bukhari, to appear before it or face terrorism charges and seizure of her assets in Pakistan. We find this fascist attempt to muzzle the voices critical of Pakistan’s civil-military hybrid regime, highly deplorable. Gul Bukhari is an upright, law-abiding citizen of Pakistan and the United Kingdom, who fearlessly raises her voice for the voiceless in her country of origin and champions progressive, democratic values and respect for human rights, the supremacy of constitution and the rule of law, across the board. This is not the first time that Pakistani state operatives have targeted Gul Bukhari. She had been abducted by the army’s operatives in June 2018, held captive for several hours and released only after the international and domestic outrage against her abduction. This imminent threat to her life forced her to leave Pakistan.
We deem the Pakistan’s FIA’s current attempt a scare tactic deployed to not only silence Gul Bukhari, who remains an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s current regime that is effectively a martial law masquerading as a democratic dispensation, but also other dissident voices who disapprove of the army’s highhandedness in Pakistan and its perpetual interference in the political process.
The SAATH Forum demands that the FIA withdraw its ludicrous and malicious notice posthaste. We stand by our Forum member and would defend her right to freedom of expression at any and all avenues. We call upon fraternal rights and advocacy groups, media organizations, political workers and international community to join us in protesting this continued hounding of dissenters in Pakistan. We resolve to hold the Pakistani State’s Intelligence Agencies responsible should any harm come to Gul Bukhari, her kin or her possessions.