Are we inhuman?

February 23, 2003


Such should have been the heading of my February 16 column, rather than 'Are we perverse?' remarked my adviser on Islamic affairs.

A second fraught reaction came from Mai Hava, wife of Abdul Karim Kolachi, Village Azmat Khan Kolachi/ Jaffar Khan Kolachi, Taluka Ghotki, the taluka of our chief minister. It is reproduced hereunder in the form of an open letter addressed to Governor of Sindh Ishratul Abad, Chief Minister of Sindh Mahar of Ghotki, Chief Secretary of Sindh Kalay Bakhsh Rindh, and Home Secretary of Sindh Aslam Sanjrani, for their urgent attention:

"My daughter has been cold-bloodedly killed by her husband (Moulvi Mohammad Azam Kolachi) with the help of his father (Allah Wadhayo Kolachi) and his mother (Sibyani), on 29th January, 2003, in their house, by poisoning her, as a KARI woman, on the suspicion of her illicit relations with her brother-in-law (Rashid Kolachi, son of Allah Wadhayo Kolachi), but the KARO has not been killed, being the real brother of the killer.

"The murder was so cold-blooded that after her poisoning, she kept on crying and jumping like fish for more than three hours, but neither she was taken to hospital nor the parents were informed about it, until she was dead, even though the parents' house is at a distance of one hundred steps only. The killers are real vagabonds, patharidars and influential persons, so everybody is afraid of them, hence this e-mail.

"Please pass on this e-mail to police, other law-enforcing agencies, newspapers, Pakistan Women Rights Commission, Pakistan Human Rights Commission and crime reporters, so that the murder cannot be concealed, and the state as well as the journalists' investigations be conducted in order to avoid the concealment of this cold-blooded murder.

"Everybody of the village Azmat Khan Kolachi and Jaffar Khan Kolachi and the other neighbourhood very well know about it, but nobody dares to report it, because everybody is afraid of this killer family.

"The matter can be confirmed from the people of the locality or if the body is exhumed, then by laboratory tests for detection of poison."

To check the veracity of the message a reply was sent asking the Mai to telephone. This prompted a second e-mail from a relative who later rang. He does not wish to be identified - he pleads fright. He said, the Mai, the mother, who carried her daughter in her womb for nine months, is desperate and feels compelled to lodge an FIR. But no policeman is willing to register one.

IGP Sindh Syed Kamal Shah has been informed of the matter and has been requested to ensure that no harm befalls the Mai or her relatives. It is now up to the chief minister of Sindh, the chief executive of the province, to take whatever action is deemed necessary.

Every mother should be able to empathize with the plight of Mai Hava, but, then there are mothers and mothers. Let us remember the tragic case of Samia Sarwar, daughter of a mother who is a qualified gynaecologist, and a father who, on April 16, 1999, the day of Samia's killing, was the chairman of the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Samia wished to divorce her husband, which angered her family. She sought the aid and protection of those well-known lawyers, sisters Hina Jilani and Asma Jehangir of Lahore, valiant supporters of human rights, whose untiring efforts deserve nothing but gratitude and praise.

On April 6, 1999, whilst Samia was in Hina's office, her mother arrived accompanied by a man who shot Samia dead at her mother's bidding. On their way out the murderer fired at the police guard provided by the government. The policeman fired back, the murderer was killed. Asma, on her way to the airport to fly off to participate in a Human Rights Conference in Geneva, heard the news and turned back. An FIR was filed against Samia's mother, father (chairman of the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry), uncle and brother, all of whom Samia had stated were a threat to her life. Typically, rather than a murder case being immediately filed in Lahore, an FIR was filed by a Peshawar barrister against the Jilani sisters accusing them of having abducted Samia.

Subsequently, Senator Iqbal Haider of the PPP, supported by 19 fellow Senators, framed a resolution condemning the horrific practice termed in this country, on the eve of the 21st century, 'honour killings.' Iqbal had to amend the wording of the resolution four times, as the supporting Senators' feet grew cold and they drifted away. On the day, the majority of the honourable Upper House vehemently opposed the resolution, Senator Ajmal Khattak claiming that when it is a question of 'honour,' there is no room even for discussion. Chairman Rhodes Scholar and seasoned flip-flop Waseem Sajjad unhesitatingly ruled that there could be no discussion on the matter. The resolution was not tabled. Thus the honourable Senate impliedly legalized murder by invoking honour. The question is, whose honour?

Now, to inform the upcoming new group who will soon occupy our most honourable Upper House of how that resolute body functions. It must be stressed that amongst the original supporters of Iqbal Haider's resolution were Ziaul Haq's opening batsman and then leader of the house, Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, and Dr Javid Iqbal, the son of the great and inspirational poet, Iqbal.

On August 2, 1999, the honourable Senate met to, further consider "the following resolution moved by Sayed Iqbal Haider, Miss Fiza Junejo, Mr Hussain Shah Rashdi, Ch. Muhammad Anwar Bhinder, Mian Raza Rabbani, Dr Abdul Hayee Baloch, Mr Safdar Ali, Mr Taj Haider, Raja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq, Mr Mushahid Hussain, Mr Justice (retd.) Dr Javid Iqbal, Mr Habib Jalib Baluch (advocate), Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Mr Shafqat Mehmood, Mr Aitzaz Ahsan, Mr M Jehangir Badar, Mr Mustapha Kamal Rizvi, Mr Ali Nawaz Shah, Mr Rafiq Ahmad Shaikh, Mr Aftab Ahmed Sheikh, Dr Jamiluddin Aali, HI, Mr Khuda-i-Noor and Mr Saifullah Khan Parachi on 28th April 1999:

"This House expresses its deep concern over the premeditated brutal murder of Ms Samia Sarwar in the broad daylight in the office of HRCP & AGSH Legal Aid Centre in Lahore, and threats of murder being extended by the murderers to Ms Asma Jahangir, Chairperson of HRCP and Ms Hina Jilani, Chairperson of AGSH Legal Aid Centre. This House calls upon the government:

"(a) To ensure immediate arrest of the murderers of Samia Sarwar who have been identified [and] named in the FIR ; (b) To ensure expeditious trial of the case and severe exemplary punishment to the murderers; (c) To ensure due protection to the life and rights of M/S Asma Jahangir and Hina Jillani as well as all other Human Rights Organizations, their office-bearers and activists who are struggling to protect life and rights of women in Pakistan; and (d) To ensure that the ever so increasing incidence of violence against women are checked and contained in an effective manner and culprits in all cases are arrested promptly and punished expeditiously in accordance with the laws."

After the resolution had been tabled, and in the scuffle that ensued, FATA Senator Rahman had to be physically restrained by Senator Aitzaz Ahsan from launching a physical attack on Iqbal Haider. All the original supporters, except for three, had either backed down or were conveniently absent on the day. Senator Mushahid Hussain was seen to leave the chamber as the voting took place. Javid Iqbal actually voted against the resolution. The three who stuck it out with Iqbal were Aitzaz, Jamiluddin Aali, and Hussain Shah Rashdi.

Iqbal Haider, who can be counted amongst the few good, decent and moral Pipians, will not be in the Senate this time round as his party leader, Benazir Bhutto, has not given him a ticket. (Should any of the new lot of Senators wish further details on the Samia matter they may e-mail Iqbal Haider at:

What should be the answer to the question 'are we inhuman?' ?