How Saira learned to smile again

Published: March 22, 2011

Saira Liquat holds a photograph of herself that was taken before the acid attack.

Saira, after her surgery. Saira Liquat holds a photograph of herself that was taken before the acid attack.

Saira Liaqat was a teenager when she married a relative. Both families agreed that she finish school before moving in with her husband.

However, just a few months later he was demanding she drop out.

One hot day in July 2003, her husband arrived at her house and doused Saira’s face with acid.

Her face was entirely disfigured, her right eye was blinded and she could barely see from the left.

The acid attack erased any trace of the pretty girl of the past – but it has not crushed her spirit.

Fortunately, she received help from the Depilex Smile again Foundation, an organisation started by Masarrat Misbah, head of Pakistan’s well-known Depilex salon chain.

After 18 surgical procedures Saira is now working as a beautician at Lahore’s Depilex.

She says she always wanted to be a beautician and will soon be opening up her own salon.  Her husband is on trial and she is awaiting justice but feels lucky to have received help.

As human beings, it is our duty to help these victims of domestic violence. Acid and kerosene attacks are barbaric crimes that need to be stopped.

We read about them nearly every day – but do we do anything?

Let Saira’s story inspire you to help victims who are suffering in silence.


Najia Naqvi

An accountancy student based in Toronto,Canada.

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

  • Blunt!

    Barbarians like her husband should be severely dealt with.

    Wot a Pity!, Women are some of the most beautiful creatures by God, how can anyone be such a stone heart-ed sadist~!


  • Romi

    More power to her!…So many women go through this abuse everyday…May Allah gives guidance to men like him…Recommend

  • Talha

    Any coward who douses an individual especially women with acid must be brutally punished in the same way.

    I cant understand how any person can do such a thing.Recommend

  • Adeel Ahmad

    This is way more horrendous than the Raymond killings; yet I doubt that it will hardly make it to front page. Where are our arrogant mullahs, crazy lawyers, angry mobs…. Oh right… It doesn’t serve their agendas.

    Irony at its very best.Recommend

  • siddiqui

    she has a lovely smile…
    i cant fathom how somebody can have the heart to destroy something this pretty…

    how can one not have any aesthetics? must have been a long and hard struggle to lose it…
    may he burn in hell…Recommend

  • Cookie

    Hope the husband is hanged in public. Had such losers been punished in the start, there wouldn’t have been such cowardly acts!Recommend

  • Jauhar Munir Shaikh

    Musarat Misbah is a person who has single handedly highlighted this issue & also had the courage to practically do something about this in so many ways. I salute her for the example she has set as Pakistani. I would encourage others to step forward & support her. Acid dowsing, domestic abuse & honour killing are all part & parcel of crimes that Pakistani men in particular, commit against women & sometimes in the name of religion. If our Judiciary has to establish it’s high moral ground, then swift examples must be made of the culprits like Saira’s former hubby. Way to go Saira !!Recommend

  • http://islamabad Maryam

    this is a crime higher than murder i believe….
    more power to Saira and i hope the criminals are stoned in public.Recommend

  • Abdul Ahad

    ‘burn in hell’? A little harsh don’t you think? I admit, it was a barbaric act which put the poor girl through unimaginable pain and suffering but hanging him or other forms of capital punishment is not the answer, in my humble opinion.

    Every person has a conscience and everyone deserves a second chance; a chance to feel remorse. A chance to realize what they’ve done and truly feel sorry for their actions. This can often be achieved by confrontation with the victim or therapy sessions where the criminal is shown the consequences of their actions. Chances are that he might truly feel that remorse and try to turn into a productive member of the society, seeking repentance. Who knows, he might actually be able to change many lives in a positive way.

    I prefer this method to hanging him or throwing acid on his face. Capital punishment may act as a deterrent but it has been largely ineffective in the case of Pakistan and more importantly, it doesn’t go beyond that in bringing about change in people who have the potential to work constructively towards the betterment of society.

    As for wishing he’d burn in hell, I don’t think I have the heart of wishing that for ANYONE. We can’t imagine the extent of continuous and unendurable misery, pain and agony a person undergoes while being tormented in hell-fire (if you do believe in the afterlife at all). Imagining someone suffering like that is a very disturbing thought for me at least.

    May God forgive us all and save us from the prospect of hell-fire.Recommend

  • raheela

    I always think about the mothersho impart such training to their kids. But once again what makes these women,that stone hearted?In general society has to learn patience,kindness towards those who are down trodden,and tolerence. A person who receives nothing cannot deliver anything.Recommend

  • Marium

    I can’t tell u what I’m feeling right now not after reading your piece but after had just one glance at Saira’s face.Her face telling its own tale.I really can’t explain how I’m typing this all and I really don’t want to read this all.Right now I’m just questioning myself why I’m in a woman?Recommend

  • parvez

    Musarrat Misbah is an amazing person and all the praise and recognition she gets is not enough.
    This crime against Saira happened in 2003, today we are in 2011 and still the case lingers.
    Does it take 8 years and more to decide and punish such criminals ?
    The real criminals are those responsible for delivering speedy justice but do not do so. Thereby allowing the mentally sick and criminally minded to harm society knowing full well that punishment, if it comes, is a long long way off.
    Thank you for touching upon this subject. Recommend

  • Tamoor Azhar

    Thanks deplex smile again foundation u r doing a gud job and u deserve a great reward.Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    My God. Acid burns should be prosecuted under attempt of murder. Furthermore, we should push the Parliament to make a legislation about this and the sale of acid in the market. Acid should not be available like this.Recommend

  • Shumaila

    People like that should be incarcerated for a long time. What kind of man would do such a thing? What kind of monsters have we created? I understand honour killing, its atrocious but at least the victim dies. But with acid, kerosene burns, to go through that pain and suffering, and then be scarred for life…horrible.

    I would like to tell Saira that in my opinion she’s still beautiful for her courage and for her strength. Also Massarat Misbah, what a wonderful thing to do for women <3 she must be like an angel for them. I am so proud to have women like her in our country.Recommend

  • Pakistani

    Power to you, Saira!

    How can anyone be so cold-hearted. Worse than murder, I say!

    WHY WHY WHY does no one get punished for these crimes in Pakistan? :( Recommend

  • Vaqas

    @ Abdul Ahad, he may not deserve to burn in hell but suggesting that he simply be allowed to repent seems a little idealistic.

    Rationally speaking, acid crimes should be equated with attempted murder in terms of punishment (at the bare minimum)

    On a personal note though, I hope they all rot it hell, and that the legal system and parliament come up with a way to help the perpetrators get there ahead of schedule.Recommend

  • Phillip Sigeweald

    I agree – acid should not be available for sale. And though I don’t generally believe in capital punishment, I would make exceptions for child molesters and acid throwers – it is attempted murder and only a pathetic piece of garbage could commit such a perverted act. Too bad he wasn’t shot down immediately for the mad dog he is.Recommend

  • http://no irfan haider

    i agree from all above comments and domestic violence should be eradicated form the whole society and i hate such kind of beasts :( Recommend

  • maha

    Musarat Mishbah. may Allah bless you with best of everything. personally i dont know her but she seems to be a kind lady. not every one have the guts to take such actions. Recommend

  • Maliha

    jealous illiterate bastard! what shame he must be to his parents, and to his own reflection in the mirror on the day of judgment. more power to Saira :)Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    The man who did this vile act should suffer the same. Recommend