Peaceful assembly in Pakistan

Article 16 of the Constitution of Pakistan guarantees the freedom of assembly but authorisation from the police is required in advance of any assembly. The legislation also grants discretion to prohibit a demonstration and impose conditions for the holding of protests or demonstrations if authorities consider they will cause a breach of the peace. If those conditions are broken, the demonstration could be considered unlawful. In practice, security forces respond to both lawful and unlawful protests with excessive force to prevent and disperse demonstrations. In May 2016, security forces fired tear gas and shot in the air in response to a protest about land rights. Police arrested many farmers under anti-terrorism and public order legislation. In other protests in the capital, the military has acted as crowd control to disperse protestors, and recently the government banned protests in the so called ‘red zone’, where most of the government buildings are located.