Mukhtaran Mai case: Mubashar Luqman’s big mistake

Published: April 25, 2011

Screen capture from a YouTube clip of Mubashir Lucman talking to Mukhtaran Mai on his show.

The Supreme Court (SC) judgement of Mukhtaran Mai’s case was a great disappointment, but the insensitivity displayed by some elements of the media, was shocking.

Many elements in the media treated the judgement as they treat every other issue – adding a lot of masala, controversy and sensationalism to it.

While I think that no issue deserves this sort of juvenile treatment, there should be a limit to the coverage of sensitive topics like this one.

The decision of the SC has been a big setback for the women of Pakistan. Most decent people in Pakistan, and the rest of the world, think women should not be raped and that gang rapes, especially those which are ordered by jirgas and take place in the presence of a whole village, should be punished. Hence, the court’s decision is a slap in the face of this nation and, yet, our media had the nerve to make fun of the victim. We expect more sensitivity from those who manage people’s access to information.

Get the facts straight

Among several programs that covered the decision, Mubashar Luqman’s Khari Baat on Dunya TV was by far the vilest. I was shocked when I watched it.

The host, who usually does a lot of homework on the cases he presents, seemingly had no knowledge of the details of the case. He had invited two guests, a journalist and a lawyer, who conveniently played what seemed like a game of volleyball with Mukhtaran’s story, with no counter-arguments presented.

Mukhtaran, who initially was on air, live from her home, walked out after hearing the low level of accusations. The argument that was presented in that program was that nothing had really happened and she had made up the whole story. They claimed that “human rights groups, NGOs and Mukhtaran made it up because this is how they earn their living”. I felt nauseated listening to their disgusting drivel.

If nothing happened, why has the SC confirmed that one person should remain in prison for the rest of his life for committing a rape?

The truth is that Luqman, and many other hosts who did programs on Mukhtaran, did not fully read the judgement. Nowhere does the court say that the incident did not take place.

Enough with the NGO bashing

During the program, a well respected nationally and internationally acclaimed scholar was also allowed to be run down. Dr Farzana Bari, who is the head of Gender Studies Department at Quaid-e-Azam University and also credited with setting up this department and building it into a significant institution, was ridiculed during the show.

She and her husband, Sarwar Bari, had been living comfortably in the UK for a long time before returning to Pakistan with a mission to contribute to their country. I am not only reacting to how Farzana was treated, but I would like to say that we women, who put out our necks on the block for human rights violation are pretty tired of being ridiculed, maligned and stereotyped.

It is high time that at least the so called ‘aware’ people start giving us some respect. It is pretty ironic that every time there is a human rights violation, people in media ask, “Where are the NGOs? What are you doing about it?” as if it is only our responsibility to prevent all offenses. And, when we do speak up, just as every citizen should, to make this system accountable, the media claims that we are paid to besmirch the honour of our nation.

The other thing I would like to clarify is that the category NGOs includes madrassas and all religious organization as well.  For your information, these ‘faith-based NGOs’ use up a significant portion of foreign funds. So, please! Enough of this NGO bashing!

There are good and bad in all sectors so I will not defend all NGOs, but let’s stop stereotyping everyone and placing them in one category – just as we should not stereotype media walas.

There are responsible and irresponsible elements in the media too. Many clearly do take money to present the news in a slanted way.  Many hosts take millions for a single program and yet they only bash politicians, but do not have the courage to say anything against the military or militant groups.

I am not saying all media is bad. Some dealt with issue very well. I would mention Naseem Zehra’s program on Dunya TV and Nadia Naqi’s on AaJ TV as outstanding examples.

Just so I don’t lose all respect for Mr Luqman, I would like to suggest that he hold another program on Mukhtaran Mai, but this time after doing his homework, and after building an understanding of what this case means to the country and to the women of Pakistan.

Fouzia Saeed

Dr Fouzia Saeed

A social scientist with a PhD from the University of Minnesota and the author of "Taboo! The Hidden Culture of a Red Light Area."

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

  • Ali

    I second you fauzia and appreciate you for writing this article. women in pakistan and specially people like Farzana Bari have been bashed too much. Its high time to stop this NGO bashing and get to what is actually happening instead of just putting up ideal religion based arguments because whatever the religion says is not being followed anywhereRecommend

  • http://na deep

    Completely agree with you about Lucman. I had the highest respect for him as well. But he seems to be quite a closet conservative. Another disturbing trend towards belittling women generally in such shows was on display in another show where the actress Mona Lisa was being interviewed along with Ali Zafar and the topic of discussion was their interaction with India. While Ali Zafar was being treated with the utmost of respect, the moderator chose to show a clip of Mona Lisa’s movie where she is shown baring her shoulders and back in a bath – there is a similar scene of Ali Zafar in the toilet but that was not shown. And then the question put to her was – so is this the way you represent Pakistan. To Mona Lisa’s eternal credit she remained poised and ignored the clumsy attempt to defame.
    I am surprised that Farzana Bari agreed to be part of the Lucman show when she was completely shouted down by the same compere when she attempted to question the relevance of polygamy in this day and age. Recommend

  • http://n/a Dforcent

    me to agree with above posts.Recommend

  • Amer

    I have never been a fan of Mr Luqman and am always disgusted by his cheap accusations but this time he really came out to be a big lunatic! Recommend

  • Imran

    Luqman could not have sunken lower. The irony is that his staggering sensationalism has made him too big a name to be critically held under scrutiny. Recommend

  • Khalid

    Luqman is another mouthpiece of ‘Rawalpindi’. He is very submissive to bureaucrats, corrupt generals and judges but outspoken for politicians and weak. This is typical of those who have ‘fauji’ parentage and move in military circles. He shows his cowardice to those who can not harm him! Recommend

  • Arsalan A. Khan

    I still have respect for Mr. Luqman as he has done some incredible and daring episodes in the past, but this particular piece was far down the belly. I was not expecting this from him at all!
    I am a firm believer of the fact that all the discussions on public forum should be fact based and keep the reality in check. Mr. Luqman should have done his homework, i totally agree with Dr. Fouzia Saeed.
    If Mr. Luqman has the prove that the incident regarding Mukhtaran Mai is a hoax, then he better come up with the facts, and in that same context he should be filing a petition against Supreme Court of Pakistan that they accepted to deal with the case on the baseless accusations. But, till that (if,) happens, we should give the credit to Mukhtaran Mai for taking the battle to this extent, though yes, the outcome has been extremely pathetic!
    Any civil and moral society would never allow disrespecting of women on the public forum or however the situation maybe.Recommend

  • Advocate Siddiqui

    Please read the judgment which is on supreme court’s website.Which says that no seamen and DNA test was conducted to ascertain gang rape. Also the judgement says that the mark of violence were not visible and witnesses accounts were contradictory . I personally think the person who made the medical report is one of the many persons responsible for making a weak case and court were bound by law.Recommend

  • Umer Bin Ajmal

    Totally agree!Recommend

  • SUB

    As if I would start following Mr. Luqman’s nonsense againRecommend

  • Samar

    Spot on Dr. Fouzia! Your suggestions apply not only on the ‘media walas’ but all pakistanis in general. We must become more sensitive in our approach towards sensitive issues at least!Recommend

  • IronyDetector

    “The host, who usually does a lot of homework on the cases he presents,”

    not true at all; he has proved himself to be clueless time and again. Case in point, a show he did on bookies, in which it was laughably obvious that he was unaware of the distinction between a gambling broker and a match fixer.Recommend

  • Habiba Younis

    Luqman is just trying to score some points in ratings, saying even ‘quite cheap’ will be an understatement.Recommend

  • parvez

    I watched the show and was appalled. Completely agree with your write up.Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    Thank God! Someone spoke against Mr. Luqman. His show are of news-based, but usually, they have background music. He sensationalized news whenever he got the chance. I am not even sure that he is a journo or not.Recommend

  • Humayoon Iftikhar Gondal

    Infact, these disgusting sensational programs yield nothing at the end. Watching them is a wate of time. I would prefer reading ET blogs which are more sensible and insightful than these so called political talk shows that are just betraying Pakistani nation even more. Recommend

  • Divya Maharajh

    If anyone would like to support Mukhtaran Mai in fighting the extremely unjust judgement from the Supreme Court, please take a moment to sign our petition and to also pass this link on to all your friends and networks. Let’s help in bringing about positive change and justice for Mukhtaran Mai:

  • M. Tariq

    Mubashir Luqman has proven that he is a male chauvinist . This man has no business being an anchor on any television network. He was not only rude, but seemed to justify the role of Musharraf, who rebuked all Pakistani women when he stated that they, referring to Mai, stage managed their rapes to get visas. Recommend

  • Mir Tassadaq

    If no DNA tests were conducted and many days elapsed before the case was registered and investigations began, the problem and responsibility to do all these was with the state and the police, not the victim of rape. Men like Luqman are a shame and they should be boycotted. Muktharan Mai was raped and that is a reality. The rapists should not get away, neither should the police who are responsible if the evidence has been doctored. Recommend

  • Sheikh Sarmad

    The media shall show some resposnsiblity on issues related to human rights violation in pakistan, and shall not be brushed under the carpet.Recommend

  • Irshad jan

    Luqman is typically a ” sensational Journalist ” who often displays rude behaviour with guests on his show. He is very biased for a national political party as well. He must show improvement.Recommend

  • http://na deep

    Watched the show and was beyond apalled. My only thought was Lucman has no idea what rape or sodomy is all about. The three men were discussing the issue so casually – my respect for mukhtaran has increased if that was possible when she walked out – she is probably accustomed to being talked to in this manner by less-educated police officers and the president of the country (Musharraf). And Lucman began the programme by saying that he had the utmost respect for the supreme court and that if a judgement went against him he wouldnt protest…what if he had been subjected to the crime Mukhtaran’s then12-year-old brother was? Recommend

  • amina

    I think as an ex lollywood film producer, rape does not qulaify as a crime for Luqman.Recommend

  • Shez

    Luqman is a crass host but NGOs are no angels either. Do NGOs want capital punishment for the suspects? I guess they are against that in blasphemy cases. Such hypocrisy.Recommend

  • Rao Amjad Ali

    Delighted to read the supportive comments for Mukhatra Mai’s case which is not only about Ms. Mai, who is undoubtedly armed with uncommon strength of character and moral courage, but a sad commentary on the state of the gaping gender inequity in Pakistan.

    Sitting as he does at the altar, the interviewer in question comes across as being particularly unenlightened and more often than not a waste of precious air time.Recommend

  • Shamy

    Lucman needs to behave. He thinks hes above everyone. You’re just like every other human being Mr. Lucman.Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    Did anyone notice that the only two TV journos that handled the coverage correctly are women. I guess it says a lot about our society.Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    Mr.Lucman is doing a great job it is an utter biased blog. period. Recommend

  • Javeria Malik

    SCP’s decision on Mukhtaran Mai’s case is not only disappointing, it is alarming. However the response from certain sections of media is even more outrageous. While I didn’t watch Mubashir Luqman’s show , I was shocked to hear another senior journalist go on and on about “ dollar zida NGOs” playing up the case to make money. No matter how hard these patriarchal forces endeavour, they’d never succeed in trivializing Mukhtaran Mai’s fight for justice. She remains a hero regardless of the court decision , for that woman alone has taught all believers of parallel judicial systems…watch out, beware, you could encounter another Mukhtaran Mai and this time she’d be stronger and more powerful.
    I, like many other women, was disturbed at first, but I gained strength from what my friend said to me “the real losers in this gory episode are the gang rapists and members of that ugly, disgusting panachiat as they all, together, could not make Muktaran Mai a ‘victim’. She is a ‘brave survivor’ and always will be.” Recommend

  • salman

    Dr Fouzia which NGO do you run?Recommend

  • Sadiq

    most of u r/(have been) viewing only 1 side of the story which has been on media since 2002 but mr Lucman has brought clearity to this he never tried present that there was no rape incident ocured at all what i infer from his discusions is that this was not a case of gang rape but it was simple by 1 man as most of you may know that sentence for a rape is 7 years RI & for gang rape is death sentence. SC tried the case to determine whether its a gang rape or not & once it was determined that its not a gang rape case and sc gave the verdict to aquit all other accused in gang rape but one who actually did the rape. i dont think that sc verdict is biased in any way as sc convicted the real accused. Recommend

  • spark6763

    Today i saw lucmman show regarding Hindu & dalits.Look we are not bothered if someone criticizes Hindu religion,but he was so stereotype.Grow up lucmman. Recommend

  • sajid khan

    Salam 2 all my brother’s & Sister’s
    i m sajid khan and i m Mastoi by cast and also belong to Mukhtaran Mai’s village. firstly i want to clear all of you that this case was not high intesty case as the media had made at that time. Secondly Mukhtaran Maye know about the truthness of her case then why she gave 14 man’s name that have passes 9 years in jail. I Think shame for NGO’S and human rights that All the families (women’s & Children) of Mastoi family were ignored they goes door to door for help but every one ignored ” kia yahain insaniat hay aur human rights waloun ka yahian kam hota hay kah sirf Tasveer ka aik rukh dekhaya jaye” I think Mubashir Luqman have done a great job because ” zalmoun kay samnay qalma haq kehna hi asal eman hay” sorry agar mery koi baat kesy ko bury lagi but yahain haqeqat hay'” only think a little bit about thisRecommend

  • Khan

    Completely disagree with above blog. It is just another attempt to disgrace SC and people of Pakistan.
    I don’t know, what is our capacity to contradict with SC decisions. We have no right to criticize SC Decisions.

    Dr.Fourzia liked Naseem and Nadia’s programs because both spoke what she want to hear. But did not like mubashar’s show because he spoke what she don’t want to listen. Why we are so extremist in all traits.

    People like Dr.Fouzia, so called entitle moderate always come up with such drama’s.

    Answer to my question! why dont you and your so called evil NGO’s raised voice against drone attacks, in which lots innocent kids and woman died?

    People like you and your NGO’s will never raise voice against drones, because if you do so then your masters will stop you livelihood.

    Why you and your NGO’s raised only those issue which west wanted to raise?

    I condemn guys like Mubasher but at same time I also condemn people like you because you both doing same thing, showing one side of the picture. Recommend

  • Rashid

    I have done bachelors in jouranlism but after seeing what journlists are doing i gave up the idea of becoming a journalist. i better be a dukandaar than becoming a journalistRecommend

  • Mariam

    I will never watch Mubashir Luqman’s show ever again…if he had his own daughter or female relative in place of Mukhtaran Mai, I wonder if the tables would have turned. Shame on Dunya TV for brewing sensationalism and shame on 3rd class so called ‘journalist’ Mubashir Luqman. Recommend

  • Athar

    I don’t agree with you. Mukhtarahan main has taken a huge amount of money to be at her best to put up the whole storyRecommend

  • readinglord

    I am not a fan of Luqman but neither am I a worshiper of Mai. I am of the view, however, that he has done great job in his show about Mai’s alleged rape show.

    I also agree with the SC verdict so far as it relates to Mai’s sex but am rather dismayed about its callous treatment of Mastois accused over a dozen of whom had to undergo imprisonment for over nine years, mainly due to suo motu of the court, without having been found guilty for any offense.

    SC’s detail judgment makes it abundantly clear that no gang rape was actually committed. One of the accused, Khaliq, was punished only due to his naivete confession that he had a sex with Mai but only in executing her ‘haq-e-zoujiat’ as his wife. But the Mai instead of accepting the honorable sex as a wife denied being so and led the court to treat it as a ‘non-consensual’ dishonorable sex, thereby making Khliq liable to conviction and sentence and enabling Mai to avenge her tribal vendetta and also keep up the wind fall of dollars as a rape victim. Otherwise, Khaliq would also have been acquitted as others.

    May be, during the review, Khaliq brings up his evidence of being ‘nikahfied’ with Mai and also get acquitted provided the non-consensual sex with one’s wife is not treated as a rape by paky law. Recommend

  • Leila Rage

    @Fahad Raza:
    and many others

    Your responses all reflect the callous thinking of the general Pakistani man. Mr. Athar says that Mai has received a lot of money and he seems to think that this proves that she was exploiting these men for her own gains. Our government is prone to doling out money to victims of crimes and injustice to keep them quiet. Do you think that any amount of money could EVER compensate for her suffering and humiliation? I think not. She has to live with it for LIFE. And Mr. Raza, you commend Mubasher Lucman for doing a wonderful job—I wonder how you would feel if you were a victim of a crime and a TV show host humiliated and insulted you the way Mai was treated. I’m sure you would feel differently if you had been born as women. Only then would you understand the horrors faced by Pakistani women EVERY SECOND of EVERY DAY. Recommend

  • Real Prince.

    Why babbly about rape or sodomy when the event never occured? Forensic reports proved otherwise, else why would this firebrand CJP give a judgement against this angel of Pakistan who didn’t waste a moment to bring musharraf’s regime in trouble and firstly you guys were not satisfied with High Court setting free the innocent accused and now you’re not satisfied with judgement of IFtikhar Chaudry. Just read the specifics of case in the article ” Curious case of Mukhtaran Mai” that was published in The News.Recommend