Judge Khalida Rashid: A Pakistani to be proud of

Published: June 6, 2011

Some will remember the tribunal for declaring rape an act of genocide, others for its Pakistani president.

She was a regular girl from  Peshawar who grew up to be appointed  president of an international tribunal for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.

Khalida Rashid, who was recently appointed as the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, is a source of pride.

Rashid was born in 1949 in Peshawar. She obtained her LLB degree from Khyber Law College, Peshawar in 1969 and her Masters in Political Science degree from Peshawar University in 1971. She was inducted in the NWFP (now Khyber-Pukhtunkhuwa) judiciary in 1974 as the first female Civil Judge. In 1979, she was promoted to District and Sessions Judge and had the honour of becoming the first female Sessions Judge in the sub-continent. In 1994, she became the judge of the Peshawar High Court; once again she achieved the milestone of becoming the first female judge in the Superior Judiciary of Pakistan.

Judge Rashid was appointed the judge of the tribunal in 2003. In 2007, she was elected Vice-President. In 2009, she was re-elected for the second term. On May 25, 2011, she was elected the president of the tribunal. She is the fourth president and the second female president of the tribunal. The other female president was the South African Judge Navi Pillay, who is currently the UN High Commissioner for human rights.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was established in 1994 by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 955. The chief purpose of the tribunal was reconciliation and maintenance of peace through prosecution of perpetrators of the genocide in Rwanda that took 500,000 lives in the first hundred days of the civil conflict between ethnic Tutsis and Hutus, while the total number of deaths was estimated around 800,000.

At the international level the appointment of female judges could possibly be elucidated as a deliberate effort to ensure the participation of women in the international justice system. Not many people realise that for the first time in history, criminal tribunals like the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, criminalised war time rape by making it part of “crimes against humanity” and a component of genocide. This initiative was taken in the wake of mass and systematic rape in Rwanda and Bosnia. The trial of rape perpetrators would have attracted criticism in the absence of women representation in the international justice system and that might have severely damaged the credibility   of the tribunals.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has decided 32 cases so far, 20 cases are in progress while one is awaiting trial. For the development of International Law and International Humanitarian Law, the Akayesu case proved extremely important as the tribunal declared rape as genocide stating it to be:

“… a physical invasion of a sexual nature, committed on a person under circumstances which are coercive.”

The tribunal designated a synonymous meaning to rape and genocide because both those acts are initiated to destroy an opponent group. On June 24, 2011, the tribunal will deliver a verdict in yet another rape trial.

The legacy of this tribunal will always be remembered for declaring rape as an act of genocide.

Others will remember it for the fact that a Pakistani female judge presided at this tribunal.

This post was originally published here.


Ayesha Umar

Interested in current affairs, cultural and gender-based issues Ayesha religiously tweets @ayeshaesque. In her free time she blogs at Fifth Junction and indulges in random photography.

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

  • Fahad Raza

    An international tribunal presided by a Pakistani female judge is indeed a thing to be proud of .Recommend

  • parvez

    It is indeed a position that she and we as Pakistanis should feel good about.
    This shows that good people do exist but they seem to be a very few and spaced far apart. Recommend

  • Ehtesham Mallick

    I pray for further success, very appreciateable.Recommend

  • http://none Bangash

    A true inspiration for Pakistanis.Recommend

  • sashayub

    so, in 1994 she became the first female to be appointed to superior judiciary…ummm….has the writer forgotten Justice Nasira Javed Iqbal, or was she not a woman?Recommend

  • Khurram

    It is in fact a matter of enormous pride for us Pakistanis. I sincerely wish her all the best and hope she would also be great role model for all those young girls who aspire to study law.Recommend

  • Talat Haque

    How we manage to sneak in these moments of pride!Recommend

  • http://ayesha5.wordpress.com Ayesha


    Thank you for pointing that out. The sentence should have read a little different, such as ‘she was one of the first female judges to be appointed to the superior judiciary of Pakistan’. My research shows both these ladies, Judge Khalida Rashid and Justice (R) Nasira Iqbal, were appointed in 1994 to their respective High Courts. Judge Khalida Rashid indeed was the first woman to be appointed to PHC. Recommend

  • http://ayesha5.wordpress.com Ayesha

    Thank you all for reading and appreciating the blog. Recommend

  • Grace

    Well done; Pakistani women can do anything! Recommend

  • Meher

    First of all I would like to congratulate her for being appointed as a president of an international tribunal for crimes..I am proud of her because she has become a great source of inspiration for the young Pakistani ladies who want to serve their best in the field of Judiciary.This is a great achievement for us..Hope she serves her best in future and make us proud of our homeland..Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    Quite a shame that this post does not get any love because it talks about a true heroine. Had this been a post about a terrorist, everyone from left, right, and center would have been here to give their “opinions”.Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    @Saad Durrani:
    Right you are. I wonder if men are jealous of her or the case may be “Don’t-acknowledge, nothing to see here” ? Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    @Fahad Raza:
    Jealousy is a good thing if you know how to handle it correctly. It is perhaps the case of “Don’t acknowledge, nothing to see here,” we have earned this attitude over the years.Recommend

  • Asma Shah

    That’s splendid :))) This sort of people should be highlighted in our media both print and electronic as they are the ones who can bestow brighter and better image of our Dear Pakistan. She has no doubt done great job and is definitely making Pakistan proud of her.Recommend

  • deedee

    wonderful!!! :-)Recommend