Punjab govt won’t hinder Aurat March in province, promises minister

Published March 5, 2023
The photo shows Punjab’s Interim Information Minister Amir Mir — screengrab
The photo shows Punjab’s Interim Information Minister Amir Mir — screengrab

Punjab Interim Information Minister Amir Mir has promised that the caretaker government will not place any obstacles for Aurat March protesters in the province, adding that all the reservations of the event’s organisers had been addressed.

The Aurat March organising committee had last month requested a no objection certificate (NOC) from the district administration to hold a rally on March 8 at Nasser Bagh, Lahore, followed by a march around the perimeter of the park.

However, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Rafia Haider had rejected the plea citing “the current security scenario, threat alerts, and law and order situation, and in light of activities like controversial cards and banners for awareness of women’s rights and the strong reservation of the general public and religious organizations, especially JI’s (Jamaat-i-Islami) women’s and student wings, who had also announced a programme against the Aurat March.”

Subsequently, Aurat March organisers petitioned the Lahore High Court on Saturday night, saying that the DC’s order was “arbitrary, discriminatory and ultra vires” of various constitutional articles.

The petition has been fixed for March 6 (Monday) and will be heard by Justice Muzammil Akhtar Shabbir.

In a statement released today, Mir said that the government has decided to provide security to Aurat March protesters. “Complete police security will be given to the participants.”

He said that the caretaker government won’t become a hindrance for the demonstrators, adding that “our caretaker government believes in the freedom of all individuals”.

The minister further said that all the reservations put forward by the protesters will have been removed.

“We hope the Aurat March will be held in a peaceful manner,” he added.

Earlier, civil society, political parties, and rights organisations condemned the deputy commissioner for rejecting the plea to organise Aurat March on International Women’s Day on March 8.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan also strongly condemned the Lahore district administration for rejecting Aurat March organisers permission to hold a public rally marking International Women’s Day on March 8.

“It is regrettable that their right to peaceful assembly is routinely challenged by the district administration because ‘controversial’ placards and ‘strong reservations’ from the public and religious organisations ostensibly create law-and-order risks. This is a poor defence.”

The HRCP demanded that the caretaker Punjab government uphold the Aurat March’s right to freedom of peaceful assembly and provide the marchers with full security.

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