A woman, Doctor Shazia Khalid, was allegedly raped at Sui at night on January 2 and 3. The rapist(s) has(have) not yet been found. 'Investigations' continue and as inevitably happens in cases such as this they will linger on until they finally peter out.

On January 3, the Zila Nazim of Dera Bugti Agency, Mohammed Kazim Bugti, a brother of one of Nawab Mohammad Akbar Khan Bugti's daughters-in-law, addressed a memorandum to the District Administrative Offcer, Dera Bugti at Sui. The subject : "Rape case at PPL fenced area, Sui."

It reads : "It has been reported to the undersigned this morning that a Lady Doctor has been raped in the .... premises of fenced area of PPL at Sui last night. Reportedly, three/four DSG personnel were seen coming out of the house of the said lady doctor who was later shifted to hospital in critical condition. Please investigate this matter and take stern action against the culprits involved in the incident and submit a detailed report of the incident to the undersigned as the matter is very serious."

Copies were sent to the governor of Balochistan, the chief minister and the chief secretary of Balochistan, the home and tribal affairs secretary, the Commander 12 Corps at Quetta, the Registrar of the High Court at Quetta, the DCO, Dera Bugti and a couple of others of lower rank.

In the meantime, Dr Khalid's family has alleged that she has dishonoured the family, that she is a 'kari', and that tribal and feudal justice demands that she be killed. She has been and remains in protective custody as her life is in danger. Now, the question that must concern us all is : where can she live in safety for the rest of her life?

Dr Sher Shah Syed, secretary-general of the Pakistan Medical Association, Mrs Anis Haroon, resident director of the Aurat Foundation of Pakistan, and Uzma Noorani of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, are all very concerned and fear for the life of Dr Khalid. Their complaint is that they have been unable to get a response from Pakistan Petroleum Limited whenever they made contact to enquire what the company is doing to safeguard Dr Khalid's life. Her husband, engineer Khalid Aman, who is employed in Libya, has also complained in the press that PPL is "putting pressure on his wife to keep silent...".

Syed Munsif Raza, managing director of PPL, and Nusrat Nasrullah, his manager of public relations, both old friends, maintain this is not correct and that they have made attempts to contact the family and offer help, but have been unsuccessful.

When we all met (excluding Uzma Noorani to whom we spoke on the telephone) and sat down together to discuss the issue, each side gave its own point of view. Dr Syed and Mrs Haroon penned their statement which reads :

"The Pakistan Medical Association, the Aurat Foundation, and the Human Rights Commission strongly believe that the victim of the Sui incident should be protected at all costs. Her life is in danger and her entire family is frightened. We believe that PPL and the government should protect the family and help them to rehabilitate. The culprits should be punished no matter who they may be and to which place they may belong."

Munsif and Nusrat responded :

"PPL wishes to reiterate that it fully supports the on-going process of investigation/enquiry in the case of Dr Shazia Khalid and seeks justice promptly, whereby the culprits will be exposed and subsequently punished.

"Right from the beginning, PPL has pursued a policy of standing by its employee, Dr Shazia Khalid, whose welfare has been and will remain our premier concern, and wishes to reassure everyone that it will continue to do so to ensure that justice is done. We also wish to assure her husband and her family that the company empathises with them in their predicament. She has been criminally wronged and the culprit(s) must be punished under the law of the land.

"The incident is being investigated by a high court judge in Quetta, as well as the police (separately), and all assistance is being provided to the authorities by PPL employees.

"We are aware of the societal interest being expressed by individuals and organizations and share their feeling of concern, and seek an early resolution of the case."

Both sides have now agreed to have further meetings to try and resolve the problem of Shazia Khalid's future and her safety.

Since the incident, the Tigers of Balochistan have talked to the press. Time magazine (Feb 7) has come out with a full-page article, "Code of the Frontier", the subtitle of which reads "An alleged rape by four soldiers rallies the tribes of Baluchistan province against the Pakistan army." The Tiger himself, the Tumandar of all the Bugtis, is quoted as having said that he is taking the violation of the woman "personally" and that he can muster 4,000 armed men to back him up. And, quaintly, "Our elders say that the accused must walk through fire. If he is innocent, the flames won't harm him." Another Tiger, Sardar Ataullah Mengal is also quoted : "This could be our last battle. At the end of it either their soldiers will be standing alive, or we will."

The only arrests so far made by the police, for the obstruction of justice (FIR 1/2005 PS Sui, Offence u/s 10, 18 Zina Hudood Ordinance 1979 plus various sections of the PPC), are of Pervez Jamula, acting manager of PPL at Sui, Dr Muhammad Usman Vawada, the chief medical officer of PPL at Sui, and Dr Muhammad Ali, a medical officer at Sui hospital. They have been confined at Dera Murad Jamali. Bail applications have been made by PPL, the three men have been brought to court in handcuffs and so far bail has been refused. The administration of justice being what it is in this country, perhaps it is only God who knows when the unfortunate men will be freed.

Investments are flowing in, so says our president and prime minister, Pakistan is investor-friendly, even an investor's paradise. Question : who are the investors wishing to invest in Balochistan, and where are they?

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