LAHORE - Rights activists have rebuffed Fauzia Viqar’s removal as chairperson of the Punjab Commission on Status of Women (PCSW).

Fauzia is on leave until June 4. The Women Development Department issued the termination notification on May 23.

Feeling for Fauzia, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) calls for reinstating Fauzia immediately.

 “The HRCP is deeply concerned at the way Fauzia Viqar, chairperson of the PCSW, has been removed summarily from her position by the Punjab government.  She is one of the most effective defenders of women’s rights and her performance has always been up to the mark. Given the already narrow confines in which human rights bodies operate, they must not be subjected to political expediency. Rather, they must be allowed to function independently if they are to remain effectual,” the commission stated on Saturday

Search For Justice Chairperson Iftikhar Mubarik said since Fauzia’s contribution to the institution and her role in safeguarding women’s rights is matchless such actions should be avoided.

A tweet on the official account of PCSW said in eight months, Fauzia’s leadership certified 16 women to be directors of public sector boards and increased women’s representation in over 50 entities in Punjab.

Human rights activists took to the social media campaign for reinstate Fauzia.

#ReinstateFauziaViqar emerged as one of the top-five trends.

In her tweet, Anum Qureshi said: “As the chairperson of PCSW, Fauzia has always extended her support and guidance in ending violence against children, girls and women.

A LUMS associate professor, Nida Kirmani, called the termination political.

“Fauzia has done amazing work as the chairpersons the PCSW. Sad that this government would dismiss her based on political expediency. This is another blow to women’s rights.”

Nighat Dad tweeted: “PCSW has been doing gender sensitisation trainings with Punjab Police under the leadership of Fauzia Viqar. “The decision was terrible news and her contribution to the institution and women’s rights is unparalleled.

She expressed her hope that the Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari would “step in and undo the wrong”.

“Do you know under whose leadership the PCSW helpline started? It was Fauzia who introduced evidence-backed innovative solutions to end gender-based violence in Punjab,” she added.

Social activist Nayab Gohar Jan said, “I’ve personally seen how committed she has been to welfare of women in this country- it’s a shame to disrespect 20 years of her service. This is highly condemnable!”

The notification said: “The services of Ms Fauzia Viqar Chairperson PCSW are hereby terminated with an immediate effect on payment of one month’s basic pay in lieu of one month’s notice of termination of her contract under clause 4 of the term and condition of her contract appointment”.

Talking to The Nation on phone, Fauzia Viqar said: “I was removed without due process and without any consideration for merit or well being of the commission.

“I am on leave till 4th June and currently in the United States. The leave was granted by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.”

Fauzia’s term as PCSW chairperson will expire on March 2020.