Stories about law

The corruption within

Irony appears to be wasted on many citizens of Karachi. I’ve had one conversation too many sitting in the passenger seat of a car, hearing an animated driver furiously lambast devious politicians of the country from behind the wheel, then promptly run a red light at a crowded intersection. Surely some parallels could be drawn between these two sets of people: the corrupt politicians and the negligent drivers. Politicians are entrusted, among other things, with the responsibility of being honest and fair during their tenure in office. They are expected to have concern for the welfare of the general populace. ...

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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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Minority rights: A tale of two divorces

It is the middle of the year 2004; two young married ladies, Parveen Amanual and Asia Tabassam, who reside in the same locality of Rahim Yar Khan, come to the court. They are both hard done by their husbands, and want to get a divorce. Their divorce cases were, thus, duly filed against their husbands. By the end of 2004, within a period of four months, Asia Tabassam was able to get her divorce, and she is now re-married living with her second husband and three kids. Parveen Amanual, however, did not have the same luck. It is 2011, ...

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Overcoming our colonial legacy

On August 12, Pakistan finally came to grips with its colonial legacy. The Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), a draconian law framed by British to govern the ‘unruly tribal areas’ on the border with Afghanistan has finally been scrapped. The British viewed the frontier regions as a buffer zone for the empire, beyond which lay the territories of Afghanistan. The frontier tribes were never brought under complete suzerainty of Britain, although indirect rule was exercised through tribal chiefs and intermediaries. The Pashtuns, historically allergic to foreign occupation offered strong resistance to the British. Thus naturally, the brutes and savages had to be ...

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If you can’t handle me eating before sunset, don’t fast

If you are one of the spineless, weak-willed people who cannot handle seeing other people eating and drinking while you fast, you should probably not be fasting. The infirmity of your faith is not my problem, nor anybody else’s, and does not deserve to be protected by the law. Under the Ihtaram Ramazan Ordinance of 1981, two men were arrested in Sargodha on charges of eating in public. Yes, you read that correctly: eating in public – for the month of Ramazan at least – is a crime in Pakistan. To those that support this law, I would like to pose the ...

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On ringtones and shaving highly emotional facial hair

The blasphemy law keeps being cited for reasons beyond understanding. While some cases are indeed based on fact (your personal position on the law itself aside), the majority of them have little more than an iota of religion behind them. Recently, some 30 clerics in Lahore wanted a blasphemy case registered against the population welfare department for offending beards. The moulvis are apparently still recovering from the threat to facial hair put up by a ghastly event in Karachi last year, when the world’s leading razor-blade manufacturer was forced to cancel “Shave it and Break it”, an event aiming to ...

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Was there a Kharotabad cover-up?

The judicial tribunal tasked to investigate the Kharotabad incident has reached the conclusion, after holding hearings for a month, that all the five foreigners, including three women, who were killed by law enforcement agencies’ personnel,  were “well-trained terrorists” and had “strong links with terrorist networks” operating in Pakistan. There were many journalists present at the crime scene but for obvious reasons no one came forward to testify. When I asked one of them why he hadn’t come forward, he said there was no point since nothing would be done, and it would not be sensible to pick a quarrel with the ...

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Karachi’s apolitical police force

The decision to  renew special policing powers given to Rangers is a step in the wrong direction. These powers should only be granted for short periods to aid civil power, when required, rather than for long stretches.    Two weeks ago, after 100 people were killed in a period of five days, law enforcement agencies “marched into” the troubled areas of Karachi and miraculously faced “no resistance” – all guns went silent, according to news reports, that was the end the operation. Fantastic! One does wonder though: how many lives could have been saved had our protectors stepped up when the violence first erupted? How many billions ...

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