Stories about justice

Pakistan, where security and justice are only illusions

Public security measures taken in Islamabad are often regarded as anathema. A few years back, the police checkpoints and barricades around the city made our once-serene little town look more like a sister city for Baghdad than Ankara. Of course, recent rains temporarily made the capital resemble another one of its sister cities — Venice — but that’s a separate story. The checkpoints around town have fallen in number over the last couple of years, and especially since the new government came in, but the large barricades outside some offices, schools and embassies remain, despite the fact that most of these ...

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Capital punishment in Pakistan’s legal system: Where is the justice?

During 2007-2012, Pakistan executed 171 death penalties and sentenced 1,497 prisoners to death. We compete with countries like Iraq and Iran; both countries do not principally champion human rights. We only have China to beat. If it offers any comfort, there is a great deal of ground to cover. In 2008, the president of Pakistan announced a moratorium. After that, death sentences were given but not executed. Last year Muhammad Husain’s execution in Mianwali Jail brought an end to the restraint the government had observed. At present, Pakistan hands down capital punishment for 27 different crimes. The code of conduct of the Bar of England ...

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A letter to overseas Pakistanis: Don’t give up on Pakistan just yet

I have been fortunate enough to travel abroad. During these trips I have met successful young Pakistani entrepreneurs, from high street shop owners to rising bankers and several others who are building their careers with hard work and dedication. It’s always refreshing to talk with fellow countrymen in foreign lands, but seldom is the topic of the political climate or general atmosphere of Pakistan avoided in these talks. Many Pakistanis living abroad are very passionate about their country and its people. They play active roles in contributing towards the welfare of their country by supporting charitable causes that are close to ...

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When Intermediate students must fight just to take their exams

On Tuesday morning around 10am, with the sun in its full glory and waves of hot air making it impossible to stand outside, I was in the court room of the Lahore High Court awaiting my turn. As I stood there, I noticed teenagers, around 16-17 years of age, standing in the court room looking baffled. I wondered what reason had brought them here as this was certainly an unusual sight. My curiosity subsided when the reader of the court called out a case and a crowd, including these teenagers, paced towards the rostrum. These children were students of FSc/FA/intermediate, ...

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Are your maid and driver ‘dirty’ because they work for you?

A woman snatched a fork from the hands of another woman just as she was about to eat at a dinner recently. The other woman did not flinch nor retaliate. In fact, she went on to accept an entire set of different dinnerware from the plate to the glass. That’s an extraordinarily polite guest, I noted. Except this woman was not a guest. The woman was a domestic servant. No one paused to notice what happened, no one found it strange. There is a difference we have with the people that work for us. We do not eat in the same plates as them and cannot ...

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Shahzeb and Hamza: What makes murder worthy of coverage?

He was just around 20. He was his parents’ only son. He was shot dead — allegedly by the son of an influential person — at point-blank range. His body was found in the DHA locality. Shahzeb Khan? No. This is Hamza Elahi. A resident of Lahore, Hamza was found dead in DHA Phase VI on June 2, 2012. He was allegedly murdered by his friend Shan Khusro, over jealousy (as claimed by the administrators of his memorial page). Shan — son of former Lahore commissioner and Additional Federal Secretary Khusro Pervaiz — admitted to shooting, but by accident. Shan said ...

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The sharks have tasted blood

Nowadays, if you have a personal grudge to settle or a fight to pick, make it about religion and you can muster a sizeable little army to do your job for you. What’s more, you and your cronies are likely to get away with it; and that too, scot-free. Even our newish baptism in judicial activism and public lip-service to outrage, isn’t likely to wake our slumbering giant of a government to pin you down and charge you. After all, we still don’t know who was responsible for Gojra, and we definitely won’t know who instigated the mob in the ...

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They killed my chacha, Sibte Jafar, but they cannot kill his memory

In my 25 years of life, I have met three kinds of geniuses. First; the genius who is inaccessible. He is always busy, forever surrounded by people. With so much recognition and power, he becomes vulnerable and often, succumbs to worldly pressures and expectations. Second; the genius who is either a good orator, a good writer or a good thinker – not perhaps an all-rounder. He may even be accessible. The third kind of genius is my chacha (uncle). Strangely, he was like none other; always accessible, forever humble and eternally ready to serve humanity. He was my answer to absolutely any and every ...

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Never sympathise with the rapist

Ours is not a pluralistic society. The urge to ‘other’ stems from an identity seeped in condemnation of whoever is different. As far as public discourse goes, no one can veer into the ‘sacred space’, protecting the sanctity of sensitive topics. This public can disbar women from any space but the ‘chaar dewari’ and blame-them-for-getting-raped when they dare to venture out of their confines. A couple hailing from Islamabad were recently arrested for raping and killing an 11-year-old girl who would go to the accused for tuitions. The duo confessed to other similar crimes, including one where they befriended a police official’s ...

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Every other rape story in Pakistan

In a small town or village in Pakistan, victim X (perhaps Y and Z too, who may be sisters, mothers or relatives) has [allegedly] been raped, gang-raped, often tortured, sometimes murdered and dumped in a ditch, a well, or close to their home. The actual rape lasts hours, days, weeks or even years. A few lurid, but contained details of the sexual assault go here, with large chunks cut out so as to not offend and/or titillate the readers. Additional details may be dropped because the district reporter’s English is atrocious, and his embellishments are suspect. In fact, the whole story may be ...

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