Pakistan: Shrinking space for reason

WHO was afraid of Sabeen Mahmud? Was it the state or a non-state actor that silenced a brave voice of reason? Was it a mere coincidence that she was gunned down after a seminar on Balochistan that she had organised? Or was it one of those shadowy extremist groups who considered her liberal values anathema to their obscurantist worldview? Will we ever know?

Sabeen had apparently received threats from both sides. There are (unconfirmed) reports she was warned not to host Mama Qadeer, a campaigner for the missing persons in Balochistan. The old man has taken up the cause of those wretched souls after receiving the bullet-riddled body of his own missing son. But even his peaceful protests are disapproved of as a serious threat to national security. So, did her defiance cost her her life? Surely some will jump to that conclusion.

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