Tag Archives: Express Tribune

#Pakistan: 9 year old girl sold in marriage to 35 year old man

“The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death)” (Bukhari 7.62.88).

Do the human rights of this girl matter? Or would caring about her be “Islamophobic”?

“Child marriage: Minor girl ‘sold’ to suitor,” by Aushique Shaikh for the Express Tribune, October 21 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):

A nine year old girl, W*, was married to 35-year old Zahid Zardari on Thursday, after the groom reportedly paid Rs1.5 million to her family.

That’s around $14,000.

W* is a resident of the Kamal Lashari village. Her uncles reportedly requested Zardari to delay the Rukhsati due to Wadhai’s age but were ignored.The police was informed about the issue but no action was taken due to the groom’s influential status.

When ASI Ghulam Akbar Khaskheli and SHO Fateh Muhammad Awan reached the wedding, they were confronted by Zardari’s men, forcing them to turn back.

Zardari, who lives in district Benazirabad, was accompanied by armed men and a Nikahkhwan (vows solemniser) for the ceremony.

Who rules Pakistan?

 

Pakistan is approaching the 10th general elections. It is, therefore, pertinent to ask who rules this country. There is no brief and single answer to this question. If we focus on the elections, we can argue that the people are the ultimate rulers of Pakistan. From another angle, a small group of civilian elite, top bureaucrats and the top brass of the military rule this country. They are tied to each other by shared power interest or by family, tribal, ethnic linkages. The third perspective is that the military rules this country with the help of the bureaucracy. Civilian political elements may be coopted to create a semblance of civilian political order. The actual and operational power is exercised by the top brass of the military.

There are people in Pakistan who argue with much conviction that key policy decisions for Pakistan are made in Washington. The United States government, the IMF and the World Bank often force their political and economic preferences on Pakistan.

Looking at the judicial activism on the part of the Supreme Court and the high courts and their periodic attempts to micromanage administrative and political affairs, it may be appropriate to argue that the judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts rule this country. The elected civilian government at the federal level has often found itself under pressure from these courts. One prime minister was removed from office and the other managed to survive. Now, after the end of the PPP rule, two of its ex-prime ministers have been taken to task by the Supreme Court for some of their decisions. Should the state institutions respect each other’s autonomy or should one institution set-right all other state institutions?

The issue of who rules Pakistan becomes more ambiguous when we examine how transnational militant Islamic movements have used violence and terror to establish their exclusive domains of authority at the expense of the Pakistani state.

The Taliban and other militant groups have become so entrenched that they virtually rule parts of the tribal areas and the adjoining districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Islamic-sectarian and other militant groups based in mainland Pakistan are linked with the Taliban and facilitate violent activities in addition to pursuing their partisan narrow and dogmatic religious agendas. There are dissident and separatist groups in addition to Islamic-sectarian groups in Balochistan that pursue violence and killing of people as an instrument for asserting their primacy in Balochistan. Karachi is another example of how the state appears helpless in front of various armed gangs, hardline religious outfits, violent political workers, drug mafia and real estate grabbers.

As the Islamabad High Court has taken the initiative to nail down former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, most civilian political leaders are happy and blame him for Pakistan’s political ailments. The Senate passed a resolution on April 19 asking for initiation of legal proceedings against him on the charge of high treason that carries the death sentence. Some of the civilian leaders want Musharraf to be tried as a common criminal so as to show that everybody is equal before law.

It is interesting to note two ironies of history. First, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has never delegitimised a military ruler when he was in power. Yahya Khan was declared usurper in April 1972, four months after he was forced out of office. General Pervez Musharraf was declared to have acted in violation of the Constitution in November 2007 by imposing what he described as an emergency, in a Supreme Court judgment delivered July 2009, only 11 months after he lost power.

Second, whereas Musharraf who demonstrated the arrogance of power while in office is now down and under, the key issue is to maintain a distinction between justice and revenge on the part of the political forces who suffered during the Musharraf years. There is a long tradition in Pakistan for seeking ‘exemplary punishment’ or death sentence for former rulers. In all such cases, the argument is that it would establish the supremacy of law in Pakistan.

The caretaker federal government is currently dealing with the uphill task of supporting the Election Commission for holding fair and free elections and providing security to the candidates of the ANP, the MQM and the PPP who are faced with terrorist threats by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Additional administrative and security challenges are to be dealt with in Balochistan and Karachi. Now suddenly, this caretaker government is faced with the unexpected question of the arrest and trial of Pervez Musharraf. The Supreme Court wants the caretaker federal government to explain its position on initiating the trial of Pervez Musharraf on high treason under Article 6 of the constitution.

The latest development threatens to divert the attention of the caretaker federal government from holding fair and free elections. The two long-term challenges also get neglected, which are the troubled economy and religious extremism and terrorism. The political leaders appear more concerned about securing a technical knock-out of Musharraf, preferably before the political governments are installed, rather than coming out with concrete and practical proposals for addressing these problems. The election manifestos are strong on promises and weak on plans of action for fulfilling the promises.

Given Pakistan’s delicate civil-military relations, it is important that the political leaders and civilian state institutions ensure that overenthusiasm to pin down Musharraf does not turn into a propaganda drive against the military. Any strain in civil-military relations can be destabilising, especially when the military is doing election duties and fighting terrorism.

Pakistan’s state institutions and processes cannot adopt clear-cut policies on these issues unless the question of who rules Pakistan is settled for ever. If the state institutions pull in different directions or one state institution takes upon itself the task of rectification of all other institutions of the state, or if the political leaders cannot think beyond their immediate partisan interests, Pakistan is not expected to overcome its acute internal crises even if the elections are held on time.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2013.

Pakistan: Police side with Muslims accused of gang-raping 13-year-old Christian girl and torturing her family

While the world wrings its hands about “Islamophobia” and Muslims in the U.S. advance the febrile claim that they face discrimination and harassment in this country, Christians in Pakistan and other Muslim countries are really second-class citizens, and no one cares.

“Narowal village: Christian family pleads for justice after child rape, stillbirths,” by Rana Tanveer for the Express Tribune, June 4 (thanks to Terry):

LAHORE: Police investigators in Narowal are siding with men accused of gang-rapinga 13-year-old Christian girl and then torturing her family and killing her two unborn cousins, say the girl’s family.Though FIRs of both incidents have been registered, the police have already declared one of the three accused, a retired inspector’s son, innocent in the rape case. In the case for causing two stillbirths, the police are not arresting the accused even though a judge cancelled their interim bails.

The rape victim, a student of class six, told Civil Judge Mansoor Ahmed Warraich that Irfan, his employee Shahid and an unidentified man had kidnapped her as she walked past Irfan’s house on March 29. She said they drugged her, took her to the fields and raped her. She said she had been unable to cry out as her attackers stuffed some cloth in her mouth. She said that she woke up the next morning still in the fields, roused by family members who had been looking for her since she went missing. She said she had not gone to school since the day of the incident and never wanted to return.

Parveen Bibi, the family matriarch, told The Express Tribune that they had tried to lodge a case first at Domal police chowki, then Saddar police station, Narowal, but the police refused to register an FIR and instead urged the family to reach a settlement with the accused. They refused, and around 10 days later an FIR under Section 376 (rape) of the Pakistan Penal Code was finally registered at the police station.

A medical examination of the victim was conducted and established that she had been raped.

Parveen said that the accused and others then attacked the family to put pressure on them to reach a compromise and withdraw the case. She said on May 8 Irfan, his father Safdar Ali (the retired inspector), Salman Arshad, Asad Ali, Rashid Ali and Muhammad Boota invaded their home and beat up the family. She said women and children were also beaten. As a result of the attack, she said, her daughter-in-law Nosheen gave birth a day later to two stillborn girls.

She said that the police had registered an FIR against the six suspects under Sections 338-C (isqat-i-janin, abortion), 354 (assault on a woman), 452 (trespass), 109 (abetment), 147 (rioting) and 148 (rioting armed with a deadly weapon).

She said, however, that the police were favouring the accused. She said though a judge had cancelled the bails of some of the accused, the police were not arresting them.

Posted by Robert