Stories about law

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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No, it is not time for gay rights in Pakistan

In the wake of the same-sex marriage bill passed by the New York Senate, a few people are supporting similar kind of rights for the (still closeted) gay community in Pakistan. In my view, it is disastrous to even think of it at this moment, for the following reasons: The gay community in the United States (US) achieved their current rights after decades of continuous social, political and legal struggle. Yet even today, several states including the US federal government do not recognise civil union/partnership. Some states permit civil unions but they don’t equalise those to marriage. According to public wishes, ...

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Let them wear bangles

Has life for women in Pakistan improved or deteriorated over the past decade? This question is being hotly debated in the wake of a report that listed Pakistan as the ‘third-worst country in the world for women’. Now, I am not one to say that some Pakistani women have not made great strides in the past ten years or so. When critics of reports like the one I mentioned above rattle off names of prominent women politicians, educationalists, intellectuals and social workers as proof of women’s success in Pakistan, I agree wholeheartedly that these women have effectively contributed to society, ...

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‘How could you serve breakfast to a Hindu?’

Early one morning, a few days ago, I left my hometown Umerkot for Mirpurkhas with some friends. On the way we stopped for breakfast at a roadside cafe. What followed was an incident that left me shaken, although it involved no violence. While we were eating, a man with a long beard approached the café owner. We could clearly hear the conversation. He was telling the owner off for having served breakfast to us: “Tum Hinduon ko bhi nashta karwate ho?” (So, you serve breakfast to Hindus too?) The owner responded: “Kisi ke maathay pe likha hua nahi hota ki koi Hindu hai ya ...

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‘Punishable by death’ needs to die

Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah’s recent statement, inciting violence against fellow politician Babar Awan amazes and disgusts me. A law minister is supposed to uphold the law, not the other way around. In most countries,  such a bizarre statement from a public official would instantly result in a prompt resignation. Political discourse and difference of opinion do not mean anyone has the right to put someone’s life in danger. Healthy societies thrive on differences and emerge stronger, based on dialogue and mutual respect. Ours unfortunately, is still struggling to understand the basic meaning of freedom of speech. There is a saying that ...

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All that’s wrong

What do you do when the very people who vow to guard your life end up being the ones taking it? On Wednesday, a horrific incident unfolded when some Rangers personnel shot dead a young man at Benazir Bhutto Park in Karachi. Initially, the police and Rangers claimed they were informed that a dacoit had held a family hostage in the park. According to the security personnel, they went inside the park and asked the man to surrender, and when he refused, he was shot “in retaliation”. However, video footage of the incident shot by a cameraman shed new light on the ...

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Rangers shooting: Lust for blood

The video of Sarfaraz Shah’s last traumatic moments imploded on to cyber space with some enthusiasm and a profusion of expletives. Messages like “check kar yeh video” (check out this video), “here’s the full video, yaar,”  “sharing the HD version,” “uncut footage” and “exclusive video” pepper the Facebook newsfeed. Bloodied and battered thumbnails accompany the excited posts. Lust for blood, it seems, is not exclusive to criminals. Slowly, steadily and grimly, Sarfaraz Shah’s life was extinguished on tape. His blood was squeezed out drop by drop, fanning out in a wider and wider crimson circle around his wiry frame, as ...

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An open letter to the Chief Justice, from a granddaughter

Did you know your grandfather Mr Chief Justice? I knew mine rather well for a man with 21 grandchildren. His name was Nasir Ahmed Chaudhry. He lived to be 90-years-old and was a retired Major-General. He was killed on May 28, 2010 in the attack on the Model Town Ahmadi “place of worship” – first wounded by a grenade and then shot repeatedly by a terrorist. These are the facts; you can read them in any number of newspaper articles. Let me tell you what the papers don’t know. My nana used to pick me up from kindergarten while I lived in ...

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