Justice for Khadija

30 Jul 2017

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IT is something of an aberration given our slow court system, but it appears that justice has been served in this particular case. On Saturday, in Lahore, a judicial magistrate sentenced law student Shah Husain to prison for seven years. Husain was the main suspect in the attempted murder of fellow student Khadija Siddiqui. On May 3 last year, the young woman was collecting her sister from school when a helmet-wearing aggressor attacked her with a knife, stabbing her 23 times and leaving her critically injured. During the trial, both the motorcycle and the knife used in the attack were recovered by the police, while during the court proceedings the prosecution presented 11 witnesses to what the judge ruled counted as attempted murder.

The sentencing of her assailant may bring some form of closure to the traumatised victim. But while there has been justice for Khadija, her own efforts in obtaining it must not be overlooked. Proceedings were continuing as they do in similar cases ie very slowly, until Khadija took the courageous decision to pursue the case with resolve. Her battle caught the media’s attention this May when she had no option but to sit for a law exam under police escort, because her assailant — the scion of a lawyer — was also present at the same place. On television, she told the world, “The judges get scared … the lawyers have so much influence [that] the judges are forced to give an incorrect verdict”. Soon after, the Lahore High Court chief justice took administrative notice of the delay and directed the court to hold day-to-day hearings. This begs the question, is justice not served in Pakistan unless it can be vigorously demanded, and then too with ample strength on one’s side — in this case media focus? The fact that Khadija’s assailant has been sentenced deserves to be welcomed. But at the same time it is essential to remember that there are countless victims of crime who are waiting for redressal.

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2017