Founding Editor: Shafqat Munir   

Parveen Rehman- A fighter for the poor and disenfranchised gunned down 

15 Maart 2013 09:22:22 nm

Parveen Rehman- A fighter for the poor and disenfranchised gunned down

By Amir Murtaza

In an extremely tragic incident, the known social worker, educationist
and development expert Parveen Rehman was brutally shot dead in
Karachi on 13th March, 2013.  She had been vigorously working for the
emancipation of poor and marginalized people in Pakistan, for more
than two decades.

Parveen Rehman was a very well respected teacher of architecture and
the Director of internationally renowned Orangi Pilot Project,
Karachi.  It is pertinent to mention that Orangi Pilot Project was
founded by Dr. Akhter Hamed Khan in Karachi in 80s, later the project
became a globally recognized model of participatory development
initiatives.

Government officials, politicians, civil society organizations, NGOs,
CBOs, human rights activists and social workers have strongly
condemned the attack which has taken the life of Parveen Rehman. Her
sudden demise is not only a huge loss for her family or organization
but certainly for thousands of inhabitants in Orangi and elsewhere,
whose life was touched by this very brave and committed woman.

The motive behind her murder remains unclear; however, the incident
appears to be a case of ongoing targeted and violent attacks on aid
and health workers, NGOs officials and social workers in many parts of
the country.

In December last year, Sister Birgitta Almeby who had been working as
a social worker for last 35 years in Pakistan was attacked and shot in
Lahore.  The Seventy-year-old sister from Sweden was rushed to the
local hospital and later shifted to Stockholm.  However, the friend of
many poor and downtrodden people was passed away due to fatal bullet
injuries.

In recent past six polio health workers, including lady health workers
were killed while they were facilitating the anti-polio campaign.
Additionally, news about the kidnapping of health workers, doctors and
NGOs staff were often displayed by the national media.

The frequency of such violent incidents has literally shocked those
who are engaged in social and economic development of poor and
marginalized people in the country.  Salman Rizvi, a development
professional, termed the situation very appalling and observed that
due to precarious situation, in many parts of the country, civil
society organizations are forced to restrict their welfare work.

Pakistani civil society organizations, NGOs and CBOs have contributed
a lot in social and economic development of the country.  These
organizations and their staff had done remarkable work during the
horrible disasters, including 2005 earthquake and unprecedented floods
in 2010 and 2011. In addition, a number of such organizations on daily
basis are sincerely working to bring out the fellow countrymen to
mainstream society, where they have opportunities to live a fulfilling
life.

However, frequent violent incidents against development actors clearly
indicate that federal and provincial governments have failed to
provide any protection to those who are working for the emancipation
of poor and marginalized people of the country. As it is not the so
called elite or powerful, whose lives are precious, the state has a
responsibility to protect the life, property and honor of all its
citizens without any discrimination. It is a high time for the
government officials to revisit their security plans and devise a
foolproof mechanism to provide protection and security to the common
man at large including workers of civil society organizations, NGOs,
CBOs, development professionals, and social workers.