Stories about law

Give them a fair trial before you burn them!

Finally, Rimsha Masih received the first step towards justice after being granted bail from a district court. She could be the first such person accused of blasphemy to have been bailed in such a short time. All eyes were focused on her case which gained more prominence after Hafiz Zubair’s evidence against the key accuser. The hearing was closely observed by national and international media, lawyers, civil society and religious scholars. Still, many things remain to be examined in the ongoing investigation. However, Rimsha’s case has opened the society’s eyes by exposing the sensitivity of the blasphemy laws, how they have been ...

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Dear Mr Chief Justice, why are you allowing extrajudicial killings?

Dear Mr Chief Justice, The entire nation knows how you refused to bow down before a military dictator, and helped establish the rule of law in this country. We know how your courageous actions led to the revival of democracy in our country and the independence of the judiciary. Ever since your position was restored, you have taken suo-motu notice of many actions, and have done a commendable job at scrutinising the executive under the Supreme Court’s inherent powers of judicial review, such as the Balochistan law and order case. I thus take this opportunity, to bring to your notice, ...

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Baba Jan’s detention may be lawful but it is not right

One should read the story of Baba Jan Hunzai, if they’re still wary of claims that public administration in Pakistan, particularly away from Punjab and urban Sindh, is colonial in nature. Baba Jan is a rights activist and leader of the Progressive Youth Front (PYF). He and two more youth activists are detained in Gilgit-Baltistan jail for almost a year now; two others were only recently released on bail. Their crime is agitation against the police for killings of a man and his son at a demonstration in August 2011. This was to demand due compensation for the affected families of ...

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Upholding the law, undermining the ballot

Pakistan has always been a tough case for those who like to see democracy as a black and white affair; either a country is a democracy or it is not. The periods in which elected governments have held power have been described as “quasi-democratic”, “sham democracy”, “civilian autocracy” and other such unpalatable terms. However, many were looking towards the completion of this particular elected government’s term as a historical first in Pakistan’s intermittent democratisation process. Would the term completion have amounted to mere symbolism and what does the judicial ouster of the Prime Minister imply for Pakistan’s political future? From a ...

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Who will speak for the Pakistani woman?

Whether you wear a dupatta or not, the fact of the matter is that the minute a woman steps out of her house, she will feel as if everyone is staring at her. And this will happen in the local market and regardless of which neighbourhood you may be in – affluent or relatively poor – the reaction from men is usually the same. They gawk at you as though you are from a different planet. Even when I have to go to my workplace, I quickly get off the car and rush inside, lest all kinds of prying and penetrating eyes be ...

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The Speaker has spoken

In light of the short order announced by the Supreme Court in Criminal Original petition no. 06 of 2012 in suo motu case No. 04 of 2010 on April 26, 2012, I maintain: (a) the disqualification of Mr Gilani was instant upon him being convicted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan; (b) Neither the Speaker nor the Election Commission of Pakistan can sit in judgment over the order passed by the Supreme Court. The ECP can simply notify that a seat has fallen vacant as a result of the disqualification of Mr Gilani; and (c) Mr Gilani would not be able to stand ...

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Killed twice: Marrying the man who raped her

A young girl lay dead across the bedroom floor, and a small open bottle lay just mere inches from her hand with the words ‘rat poison’ printed across the label. She had just committed suicide – an act forbidden by the laws of God and nature. Her reason? She was ordered by a judge to marry the very man who had raped her. Amina Filali was just 16 when she ended her life. Only last year, Amina’s parents filed charges against their daughter’s rapist who was 10 years older than the teenager. The judge, in the Moroccan city of Tangier, concluded that rather than punishing him, the ...

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Javed Chaudhry’s misogynistic excuse for violence against women

In a column published on April 1 in the Urdu newspaper Daily Express, Javed Chaudhry  expresses his disapproval for a man who had paid another Rs100,000 to attack his estranged wife by throwing acid on her face.  Even in his attempted condemnation, the language he uses to describe her injuries is detailed, graphic and inappropriate.  “Hadiyan nangi ho gain. Aankh ubal kar bahir aa gai” (Bones were bare. The eye was singed and protruding) But then, these descriptions become downright pornographic as his ultimate thesis becomes apparent; perhaps, women incite violence because of their own insubordination, give or take a few innocent victims.  The narrative focuses ...

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Mob rule wins again

We are peaceful people and we act with the administration’s approval, were the words of one of the clerics leading the charge to shut down an Ahmadi religious centre in Rawalpindi. Surprise, surprise, they succeeded last week. So is it safe to assume that the administration approves of violence against minorities? Stupid me, that question was already answered a month back, when a police officer decided to side with the mob instead of the law. In true testament to the competence and dedication to duty of the Punjab police, he lied to innocent victims of a mob threatening violence and ...

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Know your rights: Ilmpossible

Distracted by the political instability of the country, Pakistanis have failed to draw their attention to the termites that have been incessantly devouring the well being of the country. The crippled education system of Pakistan has proved to be one of these destructive creatures. Nevertheless, the presidential assent given to the Constitution (18th Amendment) Bill in April 2010 was an occurrence of great magnitude in this matter.  What were the outcomes of the 18th Amendment? It turned Pakistan into a parliamentary republic; it removed the powers of the president to dissolve Parliament unilaterally. What else did it do to the constitution? ...

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