The Aurat Azadi March Islamabad is utterly dismayed at the order issued by a Peshawar Session Court judge on Friday afternoon under Section 22A of the CrPC through which a police station in Peshawar Cantonment has been instructed to file an FIR against ‘organisers and participants of “Aurat March” held on 8th March, 2021 in Islamabad’.
The order was issued in response to a petition filed by a group of Peshawar-based lawyers that repeated the same vile lies against Aurat Azadi March Islamabad organisers which have circulated for more than 2 weeks. These lies, and the outrageous allegations of blasphemous slogans and banners in particular, have been definitively debunked many times over. Moreover, government officials including PM Advisor on Religious Affairs Tahir Ashrafi and Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry have clearly called for inquiries and action against the elements responsible for sharing doctored content online and spreading the false allegations.
To accept such a vile and baseless petition is to subject women involved in any way with Aurat Azadi March Islamabad to unspeakable danger. Legal cases against AAM organizers/participants are untenable due to the complete lack of evidence to back up lies and propaganda. Yet to call for the police to lodge an FIR is to embolden elements that have, in the recent past, taken the law into their own hand and engaged in renegade violence against innocent men and women. It is common knowledge that arousing religious passions in Pakistan is akin to issuing a death warrant, and the Sessions Court order is fanning the flames of a fire that threatens to engulf women who have committed no crime other than speak for their own and the rights of women, girls and oppressed peoples throughout this country, rights that are guaranteed by the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
The AAM has in the past few days written an open letter to the Prime Minister to demand that the government take stern action against those who continue spread baseless lies; we have liaised consistently and responsibly with authorities in Islamabad and beyond despite being subjected to such vile accusations. That a court of law has issued an order to lodge an FIR after all these efforts is extremely disturbing, and suggests ambivalence in the state’s attitude.
This is why we now demand unequivocal action from all relevant state institutions to ensure that this already alarming situation does not spiral completely out of control. In the first instance, we urge police, administrative and elected authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to recognize that the allegations that inform the court order under section 22A have been patently established as false and malafide. There is no basis upon which to lodge an FIR, and we demand protection from the authorities accordingly.
Beyond this, government functionaries at the highest level – including the Prime Minister and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court – must take notice of, and bring a halt to, the ongoing political and legal smear campaign against AAM Islamabad. Events were organized on 8th March in multiple cities across Pakistan, but the brunt of the lies, allegations, legal applications and now legal injunctions, are being borne almost exclusively by Islamabad-based women, suggesting deliberated targeting. This cannot be allowed to continue, and we demand that the PM and CJ publicly come out in our support and take action against the elements which continue peddling hatred and lies and subjecting countless women to grave danger.