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Human rights activist shot dead in Pakistan

April 25, 2015

Human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud has been shot dead in Pakistan shortly after attending a meeting on abuses in Baluchistan province. Her mother was critically injured.

Pakistan Ostern Polizist
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Akber

Pakistani rights activist Sabeen Mahmud was on her way home in Karachi Friday night with her mother when unidentified gunmen attacked their car. Mahmud was shot five times and died at the scene. Her mother is in critical condition.

The 40-year-old civil liberties activist and social worker was director of The Second Floor (T2F), a community space for open dialogue. For Friday T2F had organized a talk called 'Unsilencing Balochistan Take 2,' featuring two prominent Baluch rights activists, Mama Abdul Qadeer and Farzana Baluch, which Mahmud had announced on her Twitter page:

Mahmud had just left the building when her car was attacked. "A woman died in the shooting," a spokesman for Sindh police said, "and another woman was injured in the firing incident."

Qadeer and Baluch had originally been scheduled to speak at a seminar titled 'Unsilencing Baluchistan' at the Lahore University of Management Sciences some weeks ago. The event was canceled, reportedly after pressure from Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's main state intelligence service.

2013 Hackathon

Mahmud organized Pakistan's first 'hackathon' in 2013. The event, hosted at T2F, involved 40 people with expertise in computer coding and civic planning as well as those with private sector experience tackling 30 high-level problem areas which could be solved with computer applications. Government representatives were invited to witness the conversation, which also covered subjects like government inefficiencies and broken infrastructure.

"Not a single soul questioned that these problems could not be solved," Ahmed said at the time. "It was all a matter of selecting the right approach."

The hackathon weekend developed apps to be used on phones as well as computers with Internet connections. Subjects included citizen and government communication, a map of hospital occupancy and facilities, and a government office locator.

In an interview with Wired in 2013, Mahmud said: "Fear is just a line in your head," and added, "You can choose what side of that line you want to be on."

jm/bk (AFP, Reuters)