Lahore authorities deny Aurat March rally permission

Pakistani civil society activists carry placards as they march during a rally to mark International Women's Day in Karachi on March 8, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ASIF HASSAN

In a setback for the women’s rights movement in Pakistan, the organisers of Aurat March have been denied the permission to hold a public rally on March 8, which is celebrated as International Women’s Day. The district administration of Lahore cited security reasons as the grounds for rejecting the application.

The Aurat March organizing committee responded strongly to the Deputy Commissioner’s decission, blaming the “Haya March” organised by Jamat-e-Islami for the NOC’s denial.

According to the news, The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) also criticized the action taken by the Lahore district government, calling it regrettable.

“It is regrettable that their right to peaceful assembly is routinely challenged by the district administration on the grounds that ‘controversial’ placards and ‘strong reservations’ from the public and religious organizations ostensibly create law-and-order risks This is a poor defense,” a statement released by the HRCP read.

The commission mandated that the interim administration in Punjab protect the right of the Aurat March participants to peaceful assembly and complete security.