Elements within Pakistan’s security establishment plotted to kill human rights campaigner and renowned lawyer Asma Jahangir, according to a leaked US intelligence report.
US agencies discovered in May 2012 that Pakistani officers were hatching a plan that involved recruiting militants to kill Asma while she was on a visit to India or else “militants or criminals” to kill her while she was in Pakistan.
The details of the US intelligence report appear to confirm claims made last summer by Asma, a leading lawyer and campaigner and a former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, that she had learned of a plot against her from “a responsible and highly credible” source, reported The Independent.
She was said to be away from Pakistan and could not immediately be reached for comment.
In a series of television appearances in June last year, Asma said she believed elements within the security establishment wanted to silence her because of critical remarks she had made about the “brutal tactics” used to suppress ethnic unrest in Balochistan.
At the time, 44 prominent members of the civil society released a statement condemning the threat against her. “This is not a conspiracy against one individual alone, it is obviously a plot against Pakistan’s future as a democratic state,” it said.
Details of the Pakistani plot were contained within the summary of a top-secret report by the US Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) that was leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden to The Washington Post.
The report said it did not know whether the Inter-Services Intelligence had given its approval for the plot to proceed. However, it reportedly speculated that the ISI could have been motivated to kill Asma “to quiet public criticism of the military”.
The US agency noted that such a plot “would result in an international and domestic backlash as the ISI is already under significant criticism for intimidation and extra-judicial killings”.
Asma, who formerly headed the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, has long received threats from various elements within the country. She has been a staunch defender of rights for campaigners and journalists and has taken on many of high-profile cases that have involved powerful interests.