ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari on Monday condemned those religio-political parties and their leaders who were instigating people to forcibly stop Aurat March to be held on the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8.

“Strongly condemn those political ldrs[leaders] calling on ppl [people] to forcibly stop #AuratMarch. Women like other segments of society have a right to peacefully protest & demand their rights already enshrined in our constitution,” the human rights minister tweeted on Monday.

“Our government is committed to ensuring an end to discrimination against and harassment of women and it has put in place programmes, policies and legislative measures to empower women and girls,” Dr Mazari said.

Though in her tweets the minister did not name any political party or its leader, she tweeted a few days after a recent announcement made by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman urging his party workers to stop any activity to be carried out on roads in the name of human rights and violate teachings of the Quran and Sunnah.

Maulana Fazl had said that no one would be allowed to defy Islamic and national norms. He had asked his workers that if they saw such an activity taking place on roads, they first should seek involvement of the government to stop it and if there was no response from the government, the workers should stop that activity themselves by force.

Meanwhile, women office-bearers of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) on Sunday announced launching of a 20-day campaign on the occasion of International Women’s Day by holding various events across the country. The Jamaat will also observe the day as the day of Muslim Women’s dignity.

These events will continue till March 20.

Earlier on Sunday, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) rejected a call given by some elements threatening the proposed women’s march on the occasion of International Women’s Day as “unwarranted, uncalled for and totally unacceptable”.

In a statement, PPP secretary general and former Senator Farhatullah Babar said the Constitution guaranteed freedom of association and freedom of assembly to everyone and that could not be curtailed by any one through threats.

PFUJ backs Aurat March

Meanwhile, Pakistan Federal Union for Journalists (PFUJ) President Shahzada Zulfikar and Secretary General Nasir Zaidi through a joint statement issued here on Monday condemned threats given by some elements to organisers and participants of the Aurat March. The PFUJ leaders said that such threats raised grave concern about the fundamental rights of citizens, particularly women and minorities, in the country and amounted to hate speech against women’s rights advocates.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2020

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