NationalVOLUME 15 ISSUE # 09

Honour killing of a child

Sometimes, man wonders how parents can kill their children. It needs not only barbarity but also a devilish nature to kill an innocent 9-year-old child with stones and bricks in front of a gathering which is there to cheer the cruel killing. It is happening in Pakistan frequently and there is no one to stop this heinous crime.

Tragically, all these cruel things get support from the custodians of religion, morality, false customs, wicked traditions, ruthless feudalism and cruel tribalism. Interestingly, the victims of these cruel traditions are poor and helpless people, not the rich and powerful.

According to news reports, Nine year-old Gul Sama Rind, daughter of Ali Bux Rind, was allegedly stoned to death at the Shahi Makan area of Kheer, Thar ranges mountains, on the pretext of Karo-Kari on Nov 21, 2019. The father of the girl, Ali Bux, mother, Lilan Khatoon Rind and Molvi Mumtaz Leghari (who led the funeral prayer) were arrested and are under investigation at the Wahi Pandhi police station. A medical board of doctors, under the supervision of Judicial Magistrate and Civil Judge Johi Agha Imran Pathan, has examined the body of Gul Sama Rind. Speaking to journalists, Dr Syed Qurban Ali Shah, Additional Medical Superintendent of Liaquat University, said that during an examination of the body of the girl it was found that the face, nose, head and other parts were damaged with heavily particles. He said the neck of the girl was also found broken with a heavy object.

What is Karo-Kari? It is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members due to the belief the victim has brought dishonour to the family or community by engaging in immoral behaviour. “Honour killing or Karo-Kari” is the gravest problem, along with other colossal problems, like corruption, poverty, ignorance, weak institutions and flawed judicial and political systems, that the state has been facing since 1947. This cruel custom is in practice in rural parts of the Punjab and Sindh.

According to official figures, some 78 people were killed from January to June 2019 in different parts of Sindh in the name of Karo-Kari, leading to registration of 65 cases. However, more than 90 per cent cases were pending trial due to different reasons and in most cases the police probe had not reached a conclusion. Among 78 victims, 50 were women and 28 men. Total 65 FIRs have been registered in different parts of Sindh for honour killings and charge-sheets in 60 cases filed. Some 57 cases are still pending with no conviction in any case. However, three people have been acquitted during the process. In most cases, the suspects are close relatives of the victims.

There are many root causes of the heinous custom. In a male chauvinist society, woman is considered as a lesser creature – a servant and slave which is born to serve and satisfy the needs of man. So, it is a social problem which has its deep roots in the tribal and feudal culture. The most important reason of this devilish custom is illiteracy and poverty. In feudalism and tribalism, feudal lords and tribal heads deliberately keep other people ignorant and poor for maintaining their rule. They do not want to empower woman in society as this is a threat to their rule. So, with false traditions, they control the poor people and protect their partisan interests.

A flawed and corrupt police and judicial system has also proved instrumental in the increase of such tragic cases. Many thinkers believe that the police and criminal justice system should be reformed, if the state wants to stop this barbaric custom. PPP leader Dr Nafisa Shah says, “When it comes to law related to this subject, it’s unfortunate these laws are quite vague. They are needed to be reformed… it needs to address whole criminal justice and one can’t blame culture or trend just for an excuse. Since all cases fall in the domain of law, we need to look at the perspective of the law. We need to see that how are these cases dealt with? Whatever changes were made in the law, I believe these all were partial changes. We need to look and reform the criminal justice system for better and effective results.” Interestingly, Dr Nafisa herself belongs to a feudal family who is ruling over the poor harees by keeping them ignorant and poor. Moreover, the PPP, now a party of feudal lords and pirs, has been ruling Sindh since 2008 but it has not taken even a single step to solve the grave problem. In the coming many years, PPP leaders will try to maintain the status quo.

Unfortunately, the PTI government has also failed the expectations of the poor people. Being a member of the elite class, Imran Khan has taken no time to serve the interests of the ruling class by inducting feudal lords, pirs and businessmen in his government. They all are in favour of the present status quo and against social, economic and political change. So far, the PTI government has not taken any step to abolish the barbaric custom of Karo-Kari.

Only through the media, the PTI’s incompetent government can be forced to take some steps for tackling the inhuman custom. The media should launch a campaign against the custom by conducting programmes on the issue. Newspapers should publish columns and issue special pages on it. The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), a body of clerics, has already decreed that honour killings are “un-Islamic”. Additionally, the Pakistan Ulema Council has also issued a fatwa stating that “killing one’s daughter and humiliating her is a sign of ignorance”. The media, print and electronic, should highlight these fatwas.

Although the Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Act of 2006, the Criminal Law (Third Amendment) Act of 2011, the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act of 2016, and the Criminal Law (Amendment) (Offences in the name or pretext of Honour) Act of 2016 have already been passed, they need only implementation. The PTI government should be forced through the media for not only implementing these laws in letter and spirit but also reforming the police and criminal justice system.

On the other hand, Muhammad Khan, the father of Naqeeb Mehsud who was allegedly killed by Rao Anwar, has passed away due to cancer without seeing justice for his son. He tried his level best to get justice but he failed because Pakistan’s legal system supports and protects only rich and powerful people. The ATC (anti-terrorism court) Karachi has already declared Naqeebullah Mehsud innocent and quashed all cases filed against him. In spite of the verdict, the state has not given justice to Naqeeb’s family. Rao Anwar, a powerful police officer, is free. Is it not a slap on the face of the judiciary? The state’s inability to sentence Rao Anwar clearly shows that the system is made to protect and serve only powerful people while poor people are bound to suffer and die without getting justice.