ISLAMABAD, Aug 31: The Women Action Forum (WAF) has denounced the recently reported “honour killings” in Balochistan as barbaric and inhuman crime deserving maximum punishment, a statement issued here on Sunday said.
The strong condemnation came after media reports that five women were brutally tortured and buried alive in Roopashakh, Goth Qaboola, on the border of Naseerabad-Jaffarabad districts on July 14. Three of the victims had opted for court marriages of their own free will.
The WAF demanded that the federal as well as the provincial government must immediately take “strongest possible police and legal action on this heinous crime”.
It also expressed its outrage at the fact that throughout the past six weeks, the local police and law enforcement authorities not only refused to take action, but were still denying the occurrence of the crime because of the alleged PPP political pressure and influence.
“Like many other ‘honour’ killings, this one has also been perpetrated with the knowledge, permission and active support of the local government head – District Nazim Sardar Fateh Umrani and the brother of the Minister of State for Housing from that area, who are all PPP stalwarts.
“Consequently, the villagers are too terrified to give a statement, and the local journalist who was the first to report the incident is being harassed and threatened.”
The group said ironically Senator Mir Israrullah Zehri (BNP-A) stood on the floor of the Senate and went on the record defending the burying alive of five Baloch women in the name of “Baloch customary laws and traditions”.
It said in view of the PPP’s traditional pro-women rights stance, the WAF demanded that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari should make public statements strongly condemning both the brutal killing as well as the defence of customary laws and jirgas in the parliament by a Senator and the subsequent defence of that senator by the acting chairman of the Senate.
“Otherwise, the PPP’s support to former president Pervez Musharraf and the PML on the Women Protection Act (WPA-2006) will have been in vain.”
The WAF said an FIR should immediately be filed in the local jurisdiction and the case should then be moved to Quetta or Islamabad for hearing in order to ensure an impartial investigation by the State, free of political pressures, and an impartial judgement providing justice to the women of Pakistan.
The action forum also condemned a recent jirga judgment because of which three minor girls – Tasleema (5), Aneela (3) and Shaneela (2) – from Noshehroferoze (Sindh) were still in hiding with their family, as the local jirga decided to hand them over as compensation in an alleged “honour” case.
Similarly, another jirga held in June on the Balochistan-Sindh border gave a verdict against 15 minor girls (one only four days old), permitting them to be given away as compensation to end an age-old dispute between two rival tribes.
Despite the fact that the high courts and the Supreme Court have declared such jirgas illegal and their judgments invalid, in both cases no police or judicial action has been taken against the jirga members or the perpetrators, the WAF noted.