Jinnah and the janitors
March 26, 2019
National Saving Organisation
March 26, 2019


Pressure to drop the charges


Seven years down the road Mukhtar Mai  continues to suffer the agony and trauma inflicted upon her by the  ‘jirga’-ordered gang rape in  the remote village of Meerwala.  The powerful ‘Mastoi’ tribe had to punish the lowly ‘Gujjar Tatlas’, and Mukhtaran was ordered  to receive the brutal punishment  for a crime she had not committed.

The barbaric gang rape of June 22, 2002   shook the very soul of Pakistan.  It was an incident that exposed the true face of  the social and power structure of Pakistani society.  It was a matter that  shamed and   challenged the conscience of every  thinking citizen.  One felt that the incident  would  move the courts and the corridors of power to once and for all put an end to this medieval practice, the culprits would be given exemplary punishments and the ‘jirgas’ would be abolished for good.

Alas no such thing ever happened.   Mukhtar Mai fought a lone battle  against  a society and  its institutions who collectively were determined to delay and deny justice to the victim on one hand, and to promote and protect rapists on the other.  Pakistan’s bravest woman who stood up and raised her voice against injustice  lost the first round comprehensively. Her rapists, well supported  by the like-minded state functionaries have still not been brought to justice.   On the other hand, the   sponsors of crimes against women, burying them alive, getting them mauled by dogs,  and patrons of rapes and  vani  have won the first round effortlessly.  Many of them have been  honoured, rewarded and promoted as  federal ministers of the Islamic Republic.

While justice may still  be an  eternity away from Mukhtar Mai, the least  that we could have done was to leave her alone and let her do the much needed social work that she was doing in her village.   Her press conference of February 06, 2009 has however exposed how she continues to be harassed by the powerful ‘Mastois’, whose representative now heads the Federal Ministry of Defence Production.   She accused the Federal Minister of  pressurising her to drop charges against the 13 accused of the ‘Mastoi’ tribe.  Unfortunately the threat also includes a warning that the minister and his associates would not let the Supreme Court decision go in her favour. A veiled reminder that the Supreme Court packed with a truck load of PCO judges is ever willing to oblige those in power.

The assault on Mukhtaran Mai, subsequent denial of justice and   threats to her to withdraw her case  are an insult  to the citizens of Pakistan, their  dignity, their sanity and their  collective conscience.   The ordinary people of Pakistan must  therefore join hands to support Mukhtaran in her struggle in every possible way they can think of.  There is a need  to protest  and file a legal suit against those who support crimes against women and have been elevated to the ranks of ministers. This should also include those  who are threatening her to withdraw the case and those who are influencing the already influenced PCO courts.

We need to honour Mukhtar Mai for her courage.  The award of Hilal-e-Quaid-e-Azam should have gone to Mukhtar Mai instead of Richard Boucher. While scores  of  roads , schools, airports, buildings, bridges and projects have been named after Benazir, why not a single one for  Mukhtar Mai, whose courage and determination is just as exemplary.  She is the  Rosa Parks of Pakistan.  While she refused to give up,  there are thousands of others who continue to suffer in silence.  We can therefore pay a tribute to Mukhtar Mai by setting up  Rape Crisis Centres for the protection and  support services to the  victims.   We could   press  the government to create one window rape support centres. These centres operated by female staff should provide immediate and respectful FIR, medical examination, medical report and legal services to the rape victims.   We can  push  the government to abolish  ‘Jirgas’ and  create a judicial system that will take no more than one month to complete trials relating to rape cases.

Ordinary Pakistani citizens are  increasingly  vulnerable to the tyranny  and injustice of the kind suffered by Mukhtar Mai. The  background, statements and actions of many Federal Ministers suggest that  the ‘jirgas’,  vani, rape and killing would continue to be encouraged and promoted.   The crimes against ordinary citizens will not qualify for a UN led investigation. Nor would there be enough $ five million packets to go around for every rape victim.  The citizens need  to  stand up for themselves,  organise and raise their voice against these crime-supportive ministers and the unjust judicial system.  There can be no better lesson learnt and no better role model  than the   steadfast , dignified and courageous  female  from Meerwala.


Naeem Sadiq

Feb 07, 2009