‘Everybody Knows Who killed Her and Why’: Gunmen Kill Prominent Female Activist Sabeen Mahmud in Pakistan

Pakistan

Friends are calling it an assassination

(KARACHI, Pakistan)— Adil Jawad reports: Gunmen on a motorcycle killed a prominent women’s rights activist in Pakistan just hours after she held a forum on the country’s restive Baluchistan region, home to a long-running insurgency, police said Saturday.

While investigators declined to speculate on a motive for the killing of Sabeen Mahmud, friends and colleagues immediately described her death as a targeted assassination in Pakistan, a country with a nascent democracy where the military and intelligence services still hold tremendous sway.

The gunmen shot both Mahmud and her mother, Mehnaz Mahmud, as they stopped at a traffic light Friday night in an upscale Karachi neighborhood, senior police officer Zafar Iqbal said. Later, Mahmud’s car was brought to a nearby police station; blood stained the car’s white exterior, the front driver’s side window was smashed and a pair of sandals sat on the floor, surrounded by broken glass.

“Two men riding a motorcycle opened fire on the car,” Iqbal said. Mahmud “died on her way to the hospital. Her mother was also wounded,” he said.

Alia Chughtai, a close friend of Mahmud, told The Associated Press that Mahmud was driving at the time of attack and her mother was sitting next to her. Chughtai said Mahmud’s driver, who escaped unharmed, was sitting in the back seat at the time of the attack. She said she did not know why the driver wasn’t driving the car.

Iqbal and other police officials declined to speculate on a motive for the slaying. However, earlier that night, Mahmud hosted an event at her organization called The Second Floor to discuss human rights in Baluchistan, an impoverished but resource-rich southwestern province bordering Iran.

Thousands of people have disappeared from Baluchistan province in recent years amid a government crackdown on nationalists and insurgent groups there. Activists blame the government and intelligence agencies for the disappearances, something authorities deny. Read the rest of this entry »


Diplomatic tension over Hong Kong exposes fragility of hopes for democracy

HKstoreHONG KONG (Reuters) – From China warning Western nations to stop meddling in Hong Kong to Communist Party-backed newspapers describing “plots” by foreign spies to seize the city, a growing row over electoral reform has exposed the fragility of hopes for full democracy.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with wide-ranging autonomy, an independent judiciary and relatively free press under the formula of “one country, two systems” – along with an undated promise of full democracy, a subject never raised by the British during 150 years of colonial rule. Read the rest of this entry »


Telegraph: Syria, chemical weapons, and the worst day in Western diplomatic history

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US Secretary of State John Kerry walks with Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. (Photo: Reuters)

 writes:  Monday 9 September, 2013, was the worst day for US and wider Western diplomacy since records began.

At the Foreign Office here in London we had the bizarre spectacle of US Secretary of State John Kerry giving a businesslike account of diplomatic incentives: Read the rest of this entry »