Stories about cases

Salahuddin Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mujahid hangings: A case of ‘judicial murder’?

Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, a senior opposition leader and former minister in Khaleda Zia’s government, and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid of the Jamaat-e-Islami party were sent to the gallows last Sunday. The state of Bangladesh held them accountable for war crimes committed during the 1971 war of independence. The state’s actions have received widespread criticism from opposition parties and international human rights groups – not for their alleged war crimes, but in the way the entire trial was conducted. The defendants were not given a fair opportunity to produce their witnesses for their defence. The International Crimes Tribunal had awarded capital punishment to Chowdhury and Mujahid in October 2013. The Supreme Court of Bangladesh, ...

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Ferguson, a window into our own cases of police brutality

I have been arrested. I have been handcuffed. I have been put in jail. I have had a police officer put a gun against my temple in the middle of the road in Defence. I have had a police officer threaten to indict me with charges of rape and murder if I do not give him money. There is no record of any of this because I never committed any crime. My “crimes” ranged from driving on the road at 2am to being in a car with a girl without possessing a ‘Nikkahnama’. I would not call them bribes, it was extortion. ...

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If Ebola hits Pakistan

The Ebola outbreak has claimed almost 5000 lives since March. A vast majority of lives have been lost in West Africa, with Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea facing the worst hit. Even though WHO has declared Nigeria Ebola free, there is as yet no vaccine or even a specific treatment for the virus, which has a dismal survival rate of 37%. This infection produces a range of mild to deadly reactions in people, from complete resistance to moderate to severe illness, followed by recovery and then to excessive bleeding, organ failure and death. Like HIV, Ebola is not airborne. Touching the blood and body fluids of ...

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Do we want our children to be paralysed in Naya Pakistan?

The daily theatre of political brinkmanship that Pakistan has been witnessing as of late has led to a number of negative consequences. I am not going on a long lament, listing a plethora of things wrong with Pakistan but will bring to attention a very important issue that is grossly being neglected at the moment – polio. Do you know that Pakistan is the biggest polio endemic country in the world today? We may hear that Pakistan is only one of the three countries where polio exists, including Nigeria and Afghanistan, but what we do not hear is that we ...

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Are you a Pakistani pseudo-intellectual?

With the rise of free media, several classic cases of pseudo-intellectualism have emerged in Pakistan, but only a few hold a special place in the ‘Pseudo-intellectualism Hall of Fame’. So what is pseudo-intellectualism? The Urban Dictionary offers a very concise description of a pseudo-intellectual: “One who attempts to flex intellect that does not exist within his or her own mind” The water kit scandal is one example. The water kit scandal arose in 2012 when Pakistani ‘inventor’, Agha Waqar, claimed to have designed a perpetual motion machine that would utilise water as fuel for cars. Waqar’s claims were met with a mixture of scepticism and enthusiasm by the general public as ...

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Can access to a toilet prevent rape?

The recent spate of rapes in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India has left everyone horrified. Along with the typical reactions from politicians and international agencies that accompany such heinous crimes, the link between lack of access to toilets and increased risk of rape, in particular, has received considerable attention in the national and international media. While the focus on the need for better sanitation is encouraging, I find it somewhat intriguing because neither the problem nor its consequences are ‘new’. In fact, it is one of the most fundamental requirements for any human being and therefore needs to be a constant priority ...

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Pakistani media should learn something from India’s Satyamev Jayate

Hypocrisy is one of Pakistan’s most wide-spread epidemics. The channel, which defamed and criticised a respectable educationist for ‘corrupting the youth’ of Pakistan by imparting sex education, occasionally airs inappropriate content full of sexual references during prime time. How exactly are we supposed to explain to our children what rape, ziyadti (dishonour), prostitution and najaiz jinsi taluqaat (inappropriate sexual relations) are when they hear these words on TV? Not only is the timing inapt but sometimes, it is also the content. Most of the channels have identical programs in which they ‘expose’ selected evils of the society. Some months ago, a channel aired a story about a ...

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In Lahore: Does child labour and torture go hand in hand?

Iram’s cruel torture and consequent death is not the first case of a child domestic worker being tormented in Pakistan. Approximately, 45 cases of violence against child domestic workers were reported by the media since Shazia Masih’s tragic and cruel murder in January 2010 in Lahore. Iram is the 22nd child domestic worker tortured to death and majority of these cases have been reported in Punjab — and keep in mind, these are only the reported cases.  If anyone has any doubts, please search for Shazia Masih (Lahore), Jameel (Multan), Yasmin (Okara), Shehzad (Gujranwala), Zafar (Karachi) and Tehmina (Islamabad) to name a few. All of these cases show that ...

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Bloodstained honour is not honourable at all

More often than not, I come across distressing stories about women  who are beaten, tortured, maimed, and in some of the worst cases, killed by male (and sometimes even female) members of their families. It never fails to surprise me when I learn that many of these cases are on account of an honour that was supposedly ‘stained’. This ‘staining’ hence serves as an excuse for people to resort to violence – violence against women, in particular – which has always been a global pandemic. One of the most recent of such horrid stories, or so-called ‘honour-killings’, occurred in Darra Adam ...

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Naming and shaming rape victims

The Pakistani media can play an important role in assisting women. Journalists have the power to reveal hidden and not-so-hidden biases that society has regarding women, especially rape victims. Unfortunately, our newspaper reports are heavily biased against women who have been raped and assaulted and reinforce the existing non-supportive attitude of society towards these women. As for television coverage of rape, it is noted with much resentment that many times these victims are put through more humiliation with extensive and unnecessary attention. 17-year-old Uzma Ayub was the rape victim in what was popularly known as the Karak rape case. After being abducted and ...

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