Man dead for falling in love: Parachinar is taking us back to the stone ages

Published: March 14, 2013
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They stoned him for 15 minutes; they disfigured the man to a point where even his family could not recognise him. PHOTO: AFP

A couple of weeks ago I read a blog post which delved into the rich prospects of the jirga system, its history and advantage to those who don’t have quick and easy access to the legal system in Pakistan. A couple of weeks ago, it made me ponder over my inflexibility towards accepting it as a system of justice – today I hold a strong stance against it.

Having practiced in the courts of Pakistan, I understand first-hand the issues that the common man would face in his quest for legal justice; acute delays, unending legal costs and corruption within the legal framework propelling frustration urging people to scramble towards any alternate method of dispute resolution- so long as justice is served. The frustration is understandable.

What seems to evade us however, is the meaning of the term justice. As variable as it may be, it is natural that justice to one may seem a punishment to the other. This is the paradigm that I tried to cope with when I heard the news of a young government official stoned to death in Parachinar for allegedly falling in love with a local tribeswoman.

Although the facts have yet to be confirmed, the boy was said to have “the thoughts of eloping” with the girl. The ‘astute men’ who drew that conclusion were obviously mind-readers.

The family of the girl caught the two conversing, brought them both to the girl’s house and then what took place was only one of the few horrific tales of vigilante justice we have come across. I say ‘vigilante justice’ on purpose because a jirga is not a legal system fit for the duty of handing out justifiable verdicts; vigilante justice because the decision was not only illegal but also inhumane.

A local jirga was approached with the dilemma where it was decided that the boy and girl be put to death.

The procedure decided henceforth was stoning to death for the boy – for which he was taken to a local graveyard and stoned by 300 men. 300 men – the sheer magnitude of this number shows how intolerant and immortally blood thirsty our nation has become.

They stoned him for 15 whole minutes; they disfigured the man to a point where even his family could not recognise him.

That is the justice they dealt out for ‘dishonouring’ the women of the tribe.

But to whom was ‘justice’ served here? The boy, who lies, deformed, buried six feet under the ground or the girl who is to be put to death? Whose honour did this act of savagery redeem; the parents who are now daughter less or the daughter who may now be dead?

Please understand that the illiterate minds of the  grotesquely misguided jirga behind this decision are not solely to be blamed. It is the 300 men who willingly and perhaps even joyfully carried out the verdict who are guilty of murder. Moreover, it is the girl’s parents to whom the fault should be appropriated. Had the people who had noticed the rendezvous between the girl and boy minded their own business or even asked the families to resolve the matter,  a boy would not be dead today.

Who knows what atrocities the girl is to face?

Had this case been taken to any legitimate court in Pakistan, it would have been dismissed for having no basis at all. It would have been dismissed because there was no crime committed – such is the weightiness of the act; talking to someone from the opposite sex. Yes, this would have been a time-consuming task, but one that would have cost money, not lives.

Yet, they chose to let the jirga decide the fate of the man and the girl. They chose to have them killed. They chose to be murders- all 300 of them.

Congratulations! Thanks to the justice system you chose, you earned yourself a first class ticket to hell.

Justice delayed is better than justice distorted.

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Read more by Erum here or follow her on Twitter @shaikherum

erum.shaikh

Erum Shaikh

The writer is a News Editor at The Express Tribune and has an Undergraduate Degree in Law from the University of London. She tweets @shaikherum (twitter.com/shaikherum)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.