New Delhi: Human rights activist Marvi Sirmed was shot at by unidentified gunmen in Islamabad on Friday. Although, the activist escaped unharmed, the attack once again raises questions of the state of constant fear for Pakistani activists.
Sirmed who has been an advocate of democracy and human rights has received threats from extremist groups in the past. The police have ordered a probe. No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.
The gunmen, who were in a black car, fired at Sirmed's vehicle at Murree Road near Bani Gala on the outskirts of Islamabad while she was returning home from work on Friday evening. "They tried to target us twice and fired several shots at my car which missed. Luckily, my driver sped away and we escaped," Sirmed said. Sirmed is an outspoken defender of democracy and human rights, especially the rights of minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Shias. She has received threats from rightwing and extremist groups several times in the past, forcing her to change her residence frequently.
However, threats have never deterred her from taking steps to protect the rights of minorities and she was recently at the forefront of a campaign to prevent the abduction and forcible conversion of Hindu girls.
Sirmed, who works as the manager of a UN project to strengthen Pakistan's democracy and parliament, also played a key role in the recent campaign to free Rimsha Masih, a Christian girl who was wrongly accused of blasphemy after a Muslim cleric planted evidence against her.
Friends who had visited Sirmed at work two days ago said they had spotted a suspicious looking car parked outside her office late at night. In a message posted on Twitter, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Sirmed had been provided security at her residence. Malik said he had asked authorities to submit a report on the attack on Sirmed's car.
With additional information from PTI