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LAW: OPEN LETTER TO THE CHIEF JUSTICE

Updated March 17, 2019

Email

Clockwise: Protest demanding justice for Amal; Amal with her family; Amal Umer | Photos by the writer
Clockwise: Protest demanding justice for Amal; Amal with her family; Amal Umer | Photos by the writer

Dear Chief Justice,

I hope you are settling well in to routine and the workload that comes with your esteemed title.

I am sure that these past few weeks, have been most consuming and that you, like us, have been applauding the Prime Minister and the Army Chief to making some sane and admirable decisions. We have somewhat successfully avoided the full-fledged threat of war so far, after the Indian violation and claim of surgical strike, post the Pulwama tragedy, and at the same time managed to show our strength and skill to our volatile neighbour.

The mother of 10-year-old Amal Umer, killed by a policeman’s bullet last August, appeals for a resolution

We have also managed rescue an Indian pilot from a mob attack and, by returning him to his homeland the very next day, we made sure the world knows we are better than our image — in fact, better than most countries. For once, Pakistan has managed to get such a positive presence in the national and international media. We have hence proved ourselves a responsible nation and we Pakistanis have had the opportunity to flaunt our nationality with our heads held high. Commendable decisions all around for sure.

That said, since we are swiftly becoming a nation with, what can be called, a ‘short-term memory syndrome’, I would like to draw everyone’s attention to the casualties and loss of precious lives that we incur on our own soil on a daily basis, at the hands of our very own police. I would like to draw attention to Nimrah who we lost on February 23, 2019, Areeba on January 19, 2019, Aqsa on October 1, 2018 and Amal on August 13, 2018. All our beautiful daughters lost at the hands of an irresponsible police force are now sadly remembered by the day of their demise.

How are we to combat with an over-armed police force filled with untrained and irresponsible, trigger-happy jawans who think it is their right to shoot at sight any robbers, thugs or innocent civilians who might get in the way of their kill? How are we deal with hospitals which refuse to treat the injured, even if it is an innocent 10-year-old child bleeding helplessly in their facility? How are we to combat these monsters who are eating us up internally like an aggressive cancer gone rogue? And who is responsible for firing?

I would like to draw your attention to parents like me who have suffered this injustice, of losing their innocent, beautiful children at the hands of these uncontrollable monstrous departments. I would like explain here that for an aggrieved parent to get out of bed and face the day without their child in their arms is a big enough challenge. But for them to have the energy to get up, raise their voice and fight this system is not only a gargantuan ask, it is almost impossible. For a parent to find the words to express what happened, to relive that moment, that day, to be questioned about it in a committee, to face that enquiry, to hear those heart-wrenching phone calls made to the ambulance service — to relive every moment of that unbelievable day is not only difficult, it is cruel. It is only the blind love for their lost child and the love for all the other children out there that a parent commits to endure what my husband and I have endured these past seven months. As a result of raising our voice, a suo-motto action was taken in September 2018, and a committee was put together by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to inquire into the events that led to the death of our daughter Amal Umer on August 13, 2018.

The SC committee conducted a detailed inquiry in the following five months and submitted its report in the beginning of January 2019. This case was last heard on January 17, 2019. Ten days were given to the questioned departments to submit their comments on the report. The next hearing was scheduled for January 28, 2019 but was delisted. Today is March 9 and we are still in waiting for the case to be called.

“Silence never won rights,” said Roger Nash Baldwin. So I do not intend to be silent. This may be a small human rights case at a glance, but the social impact from the reforms demanded and what the Supreme Court committee has suggested in its report will be immense and will affect the entire country if implemented.

Let us not forget our children, amidst all the commotion, for we owe it to them to stand for change. We owe them improvement, accountability, due penalties and a promise that we will make sure other children will be valued, their lives will be held precious, and that others will get to live to their potential and grow up to be amazing leaders and achievers. Let us ensure that all lives matter and let us not allow these departments to get away with disregarding the value our daughters could have added to this world, had they been given a chance to live.

This is an appeal to you, Honourable Chief Justice, and to the esteemed Supreme Court, to call immediate attention to the Amal Umer case by requesting a hearing to be scheduled on an urgent basis so that the investigation and the case is seen through, and due reforms enforced before more Amals are lost.

Deeply aggrieved,
Beenish Umer
Amal’s Mother

Published in Dawn, EOS, March 17th, 2019