Two women’s Tragedies in Balochistan: Honor killing and Rape
On July 2008 three Baloch girls fell victim to an “honor killing” in the remote village of Bala Kot , Jaferabad, Balochistan . Similarly Dr. Shazia Khalid, a non-Baloch 32 year-old female, was raped in Sui, Balochistan in January 2005 by Pakistani military officers. Both cases are strongly condemned in Balochistan. Baloch leaders demanded that justice be served to both victims but due to Pakistani law enforcement and politician’s pattern of interference and meddling, both cases remain unresolved, remember “Justice delayed is justice denied”
According to the pro-state media, eye witness accounts described the two or three Baloch girls as being abducted at gun point with the use of government of Balochistan official vehicle on July 13-14, 2008 from the remote village Bala Kot, Balochistan. It indicates a clear lead for the law-enforcement and investigators to follow the case unfortunately within a Pakistani system, when key official figures are involved in such illegal actions, law enforcement and the judicial system become toothless.
Later police reports revealed that the abductors belonged to a Member of Balochistan parliament and one of their kin is the city mayor of Bala kot, Jaferabad, Balochistan. Furthermore the police made the case more complicated by releasing a conflicting report. First, police say there were three girls and they were shot, while there was another report saying that the girls were buried alive. Finally a final report reported that the two girls were victims of an “honor killing”. The case became murkier due to the law-Enforcement doubtful investigation.
“There is conflicting report within police department. Sometime they say they were shot, sometime they say they were buried alive, sometime they say victims were three than they say they were two.” (Says Lawyer, Sadiq Raisani, Representative of Balochistan Bar Association, in brief interview with Radio Gwank, Balochistan)
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan each year 1000 so called “honor killing” occur in Pakistan. The fundamental question is, have these rape victims ever received justice from the government. If not, then the story of abductors story ends without punishment. “Everyday, every single women’s are being raped and it is being reported in the press.. What chances they do have of winning this case.. as a Lawyer I have to tell them very few, very few.” Says Asama Jahangir Head of ” Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission” (Interviews by reporter Terence McKenna from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, (CBC)February 28, 2006)
Pakistani media has taken this isolated honor killing case from Bala Kot, Balochistan blowing it up out of proportion globally. Their motive is to demonize Baloch tribal societies and customs. Baloch people have their own distinctive culture, custom, language, literature, history, and tradition which are different than the rest of Pakistan. Historically, Baloch women have helped their worriers in the battlefield, Balochistan tribal society have had nomadic women, they work shoulder to shoulder with their men to bring home meals each day. For example, they take care of livestock in the most remote regions of Balochistan, being Sheppard’s gazing free in their mountain along with their men without wearing any veil they feel safe and secure. They are helping to form the cultivation, walking miles to collect wood and carry it back on their head to make meals for the whole family. Baloch women are hard-working regardless of any basic facilities such as, school, hospital, drinking water and electricity. That is due to the repression of the Pakistani states. But their backwardness and illiteracy is not their fault, it is the ruthless state oppression. Those Baloch families who can afford to educate their females are going to university and college. There are many female Baloch doctors, nurses, lecturers, teachers, and office workers.
“Reporter from Pakistan never misses an opportunity to malign Baloch culture by selective reporting of crimes and retrogressive individual leaders.” (Says Professor Gul Agha Univesity of Illinois, USA Balochi Culture September 12, 2008)
A pro-state patronage, Baloch tribal leaders and senator Israrullah Zehri made comments inside Pakistani parliament about the Baloch so called honor killing by saying “These are centuries – old tradition and I will continue to defend them.” They are ” Balochi customs”; he was wrong to begin with because through out Baloch history there never has been such a case where women were buried alive.
“Senator (Baloch) Israr Zehri is living in the pre-Islamic era, the age of ignorance when Arabs used to bury alive their new born baby girls..(He) must be condemned on his brutal remarks to justify murder of innocents and defenseless (Baloch) women in the name of so called “honor killing” (says Senior Baloch intellectuals Abdul Samad Ameeri , Balochi-Culture September 12, 2008)
Although according to representative of Balochistan Bar Association Mr. Raisani ” The pro-state Senator Israr Zehri (Baloch) later privately did apologized to the Baloch people by making such an unfair comments against Baloch customs.
But Pakistani media, TV, Nongovernmental organizations and Women’s organizations got a platform used that the senators’ remarks against Baloch customs. The state media is trying to divert the Balochistan crisis to global community through such propaganda.
“The military relies on (Balochistan) repression, killings, imprisonment, disappearances and torture to bend the Baloch to its will.” (Says Robert Templer, Director of the Groups Asia Program, United Press International, October 23, 2007)
A Baloch female student from University of Balochistan and an activist Fareda baloch says ” The Baloch women’s enjoy the most safety, respect, and equality just like other women’s in this region even they are treated better compare to the rest of the Pakistan.”
Due to the trust and safety among Baloch society she said “If you go today there is town called Bisema, in Balochistan there is no wall around their houses, houses are without doors but still Baloch people feel secure and safe.”
She was asking the Pakistani biased Media, TV, Reporters, Politicians and Women’s Groups Organizations: “I am asking where was these all Pakistani pundit media, TV, and reporter when January 2005, in Sui, Balochistan a non-Baloch female Dr. Shazia Khalid being raped by Pakistani military officers named Hamad? Where were they when (secular) Baloch tribal leaders Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti (former governor/premiers of Balochistan) stood for victim of raped non-Baloch female doctor Shazia Khalid , who demanded her rapist Pakistani military officers should be punished according to the law, due to that on March 17, 2005, Pakistani military bombarded his city Dera Bugti, in Balochistan, while 70, innocents Bugti tribes/Hindus women’s and children were killed? Where were they when their own former female Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated by Islamic extremist and radical Jihad’s in “Rawalpindi”, Punjab? (Says a Female student, Fareda Baloch from University of Balochistan, and an activist, in brief interview with Radio Gwank Balochistan)
In the case of Dr. Shazia Khalid, in January 2005 she was working as family Doctor in Sui, Balochistan for the Pakistan’s Petroleum Limited (PPL) and she lived in the apartment provided by the government. She was living in high security zone of gas plant which was guarded by the Pakistani Defense Security Guards (DSG).
While she was sleeping in her apartment at night a military officer named Hamid attacked her. While his job was to be protecting her, Dr. Shazia Khalid says ” I tried using all my stamina to protect myself and save myself. He used my scarf to blindfolded me and he tied my wrists with telephoned wire… than he raped me..I tried to move, he would hit me whenever I tried to move he said, I have pistol, if you scream, if you try and call some one for help I will kill you.” (Says Dr. Shazia Khalid an interviews by reporter Terence McKenna from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, (CBC)February 28, 2008)
When Dr. Shazia Khalid approached the authorities for justice her case was watered down by top state figures. Instead she was insulted by her Nation’s President Pervez Musharraf. While international reporter confronted him about her case in New York, President Musharraf replied ” You must understand the environment in Pakistan. This has become a money-making concern. A lot of people say if you want to go abroad and get visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped.” (Washington post, October 1, 2006)
The poor helpless, humiliated and degraded “32” year old rape victim Dr. Shazia says ” I did not get justice and I will regrets that for the rest of my life.” (An interviews by reporter Terence McKenna from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, (CBC) February 28, 2006)
It will be embarrassing for the state when its President declared his military rapist officer “100 percent” innocent without any investigation or trial on the national television; it clearly shows justice will be a pipe-dream for common men and women in Pakistan.
A Lawyer Asama Jahangir says ” If the president of the country comes out on television without any investigation being carried out and says that the accused he can assure people is innocent..Then he is involved in a cover up.” Asama Jahangir is the Head of “Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission” (Interviews by reporter Terence McKenna from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, (CBC)February 28, 2008)
This kind of cover up is common among Pakistani civilian and military politicians, in Pakistan’s parliamentary election through raged and fraud whoever wins become a parliamentary member. These winnings are compared to those of winning a lottery, through corruption many politicians dream to be millionaires overnight. That is the norm in Pakistani politics. No one amongst them has the will power to come forward to break the ice and reshape their failing system. Pakistani leaders may borrow the John F. Kennedy quote who said ” Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Therefore western observers once wrote the ” Well educated political families, such as the Bhutto’s took a page from the Chinese nationalist, telling Westerners exactly what we wanted to hear, preaching democracy and the rule of law abroad, they looted shamelessly at home.” (USA Today editorial, can not recall the date)
As a third world country Pakistani politicians can not afford to live in glass houses as their state is dependent on US aid, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other International Donor’s while due to their incompetent leadership and ruthless and corrupt military power which always tend to corrupt such rulers be a civilian or military as saying goes “Absolute power corrupt absolutely.” That’s what Pakistan is going through for the last six decades as third world country.
“The poor break their fast with the salt water”, these are heart breaking words from Pakistani writers Zafar Alam, someone can imagine how poor people are struggling in Pakistan. This is a wake up call for those Pakistani rulers who love to live in their glass houses while their people barely survive day by day in all aspects of life, and continue their cries for justice like the raped women’s victim Dr. Shazia Khalid and thousands of others.