Sabeen Mahmud was the director of The Second Floor (T2F) and the woman behind Pakistan’s first hackathon. The 40-year-old was one of Pakistan’s most outspoken human rights activist. In 2007, she had set up T2F as a café and art space that also functioned as a place of dialogue.
On Friday, the 24th of April, she had organized a talk on the many missing people cases in the troubled Balochistan province of Pakistan.
The last picture that Mahmud put up on her Instagram page was of the talk ‘Unsilencing Balochistan (Take 2)’. Mahmud was trying to bring about a transformation in Pakistani society. She was pronounced dead on arrival at the National Media Centre Hospital. Mahmud’s body has been shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. Her mother, who was shot twice, is reportedly hospitalized but out of danger.
Mahmud exited the T2F offices with her mother after 9 PM on Friday. She was on her way back home when she was shot four times; the bullets hit her shoulder, chest and abdomen.
Balochistan’s missing people are a cause of concern as their bodies turn up years after their disappearance. Since 2005, 2,825 people (mainly students and activists) have disappeared. Many suspect that the Pakistani government and the ISI are behind this.
Two weeks ago, a similar talk to be held in a Lahore university was cancelled due to government pressure. Mahmud was worried about repercussions on her and T2F too.
“Sabeen was a voice of reason, pluralism and secularism: the kind of creed that endangers the insidious side of constructed Pakistani nationalism,” Raza Rumi, a rights activist who escaped an assassination attempt in March 2014 and now lives in the United States out of fear for his life, told Al Jazeera.