Stories about justice

The limits of judicial review

The Supreme Court of Pakistan seems to be arrogating power to itself while targeting the executive. The problem here is is two-fold. The first issue is one of judicial review, and the limits of that tactic. The Supreme Court has asked the attorney general whether the government intended to dismiss the chief of Army staff and the director general ISI, and when answered in the negative, asked for a written response from the government to the same effect. This translates as a written guarantee that both the aforementioned figures will not be relieved of their posts. The prerogative for these actions in ...

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Who says I can’t be a Muslim feminist?

People, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, often tell me that I can’t be both a Muslim and a feminist. At a recent book reading in Oregon, for example, a male audience member asked me, “How does that even work?”. These questions demonstrate some of the rigid misconceptions individuals have about Islam and feminism; many people think that they’re mutually exclusive categories. In fact, as a Muslim feminist, I have found them to have more in common than people realise, especially when it comes to social justice. Ethos – the fundamental spirit that guides my faith– is more important to me than edicts, ...

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My sister didn’t visit the Punjab Institute of Cardiology

I visited Pakistan this winter to spend my holidays with my family.  After spending some lovely days with my parents at my dad’s farmhouse in the cool country side of Sargodha – the world’s best citrus fruit producing area – and returned to Rawalpindi for some work. While driving along the way, I received a phone call from my sister. She told me she had an intestinal gas problem, which had resulted in low blood pressure and had caused her to faint. By the time she called me, thankfully, she was feeling better. ‘Intestinal gas’ is the ultimate diagnosis in our ...

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Where criminals are secure, and innocents die

Once lucky, twice confident, thrice dead, goes the saying, and more often than not, it does play out that way. Unfortunately, as far as Rana Sarwat is concerned, somebody else did the dying. The convicted kidnapper and under-trial murder accused managed to evade death for the third time in the face of James Bond/Ethan Hunt-inspired assassins, only for two innocent women, the mother and sister of the cabinet secretary, to lose their lives in a hail of gunfire as a pair of gunmen entered the supposedly secure VIP ward of Pims and managed to leave after the incident without any ...

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Honourably dead

We celebrated a year of violence in Pakistan by offering 675 girls at the altar of honour. Ismat Parveen (whose name means ‘dignity’ and ‘honour’) married a man she wanted to, and because she didn’t want to divorce him, she was shot to death – by her brother. A young woman by the name of Hajil Mai was axed by her husband earlier last month because he accused her of having an affair with the neighbour. He killed her with an axe in the name of honour. With an axe. She is just one victim amongst the many who die in the name ...

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One more step towards legal rights for women

Women Parliamentarians have proved that when it comes to higher priorities, politicians can go above party divides. The bill on anti women practices passed by the National Assembly, which prohibits forced marriage, marriage with Quran, restricting women to get their rightful share in inheritance and giving women in exchange for conflict resolution, is a proof of that. Donya Aziz and Attiya Inayatulla have been working hard on this bill and have been mobilizing support from all parties. Though the bill is signed by eight Parliamentarians of PML (Q) including Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, it is women Parliamentarians that have gone through the ...

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Qadri sentence: Justice served – for now

The verdict is in. The assassin will hang. Justice seems to have been served. Well, not quite yet. Almost ten months to the day when the former Punjab governor was gunned down, the lone gunman has seen his bubble burst. His ‘divinely inspired’ mission wasn’t so divine after all. He will die the way a real blasphemer would have been put to death. Except that in his case, thousands of righteously misguided individuals will take to the streets to push for his release from prison. After all, guilty or not, his followers have already made it quite clear that for them, ...

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Does Mumtaz Qadri deserve to die?

“Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the self-confessed murderer of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, has been sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court today”reads the latest breaking news. Ten months after he drilled Salmaan Taseer’s body with 25 bullets  for the ‘crime’ of supporting Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman accused of blasphemy Qadri has been sentenced. The former governor’s killer had been regaled as a hero and showered with rose petals. YouTube videos of him defending his actions turned the stomach. What kind of man would do this I wondered? Kill an innocent man and then proudly recite naats as if he was one of God’s chosen ...

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Death sentence for Rangers, freedom for terrorists?

Rejoice all ye faithful, for justice has been served. Seven terrorists who spread fear among the good people of Pakistan have been tried and sentenced. These weren’t any slap-on-the-wrist sentences either: one got a death sentence and the others got life. This was justice on steroids, with the ATC disposing of the case in a record two months. They were terrorists after all, and got what they deserved. So pardon me for asking why Malik Ishaq could not be faced with the same kind of justice, or why Ajmal Pahari – accused of dozens if not hundreds of murders  – ...

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Why should feudals apologize?

I have grown up hearing all the stereotypes on television in newspapers. Feudals drive big jeeps (who cares how many books they read?). Feudals are the reason the country can’t prosper. Feudals abuse people in the name of tradition. But this ‘wadera’ boogeyman image is not accurate. I’m not saying that exploitation of the poor does not exist in rural Pakistan, but the facts that are often ignored are: Exploitation is not exclusive to the agricultural community. For every landlord who mistreats the people who depend on him for a livelihood, there are at least three who are actively working to provide services (services that every ...

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