Above the law?

September 10, 2019

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POLICE constable Faiza Nawaz was simply carrying out her duties at Lahore’s Ferozewala court when she instructed advocate Ahmed Mukhtar to not park his car in the no-parking zone. Instead of obeying orders, however, she alleged the lawyer grew angry at being told what to do and resorted to violence. He kicked her in the shin and then slapped her — an inexcusable act of humiliation directed towards a woman doing her job. The lawyer was soon arrested. In a photograph, he can be seen smiling impishly in handcuffs, while being escorted to the courtroom by Ms Nawaz herself. Just as swiftly and bizarrely, however, he was released, due to a supposed ‘mistake’, with his name written incorrectly in the FIR.

Following his release, Ms Nawaz expressed her lack of faith in the “cruel system” in a now widely circulated video statement. She spoke about how some lawyers had resorted to her character assassination and sending threats to her family, while she felt abandoned by her own colleagues. Since she was certain that she would not get justice, Ms Nawaz expressed her wish to resign from her position in the police force that she said she had joined to help serve her community, particularly in getting justice for women. Her refusal to quietly bow to immense pressure and unjust tactics by the lawyers’ fraternity in Ferozewala led to great media interest, and finally the Punjab police and government took notice. By taking a brave and principled stand and speaking up against the abuse she faced, the police constable is an inspiration for many. There is another point to be made about the bullying behaviour of the lawyers. Time and again, we have seen members of the lawyers’ fraternity behave like thugs or a mob of hooligans, as they resort to violence, bigotry and chauvinism, particularly in Punjab. No one is above the law, least of all its custodians. Let’s hope justice is served this time.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2019