A real story
By: Aasim Zafar Khan
Jameel enters the lady’s room. “Pour me a glass of that juice and leave the jug on the table”, the lady orders. The 13-year-old nods and proceeds to pour a glass out for the madam. But his hands shake, and the glass drops to the floor, breaking into a million little pieces. There’s a strange silence in the air. He looks up, and the madam is upon him. “You little rascal”, she shouts, and proceeds to slap him silly. He drops to the ground.
The madam, instead of bending down to slap him, decides to conserve some energy and kicks him in the gut instead. Jameel squeezes into the fetal position, trying to cushion the blows as much as possible. But it doesn’t quite help. The madam retreats. He struggles to his knees, and says, “That was painful”. The madam turns, anger still boiling inside. She reaches for the glass jug, and in one swift movement proceeds to smash it into his skull. The boy reels, but she’s not done yet. Four more blows follow – till the jug breaks. Jameel’s head has been cracked open. Blood sprouting out, like juice from a ripe orange.
From the corner of the door, a small pair of eyes stares. The boy’s younger brother, Javed, only eight years old, watches as his sibling is beaten to a pulp. He rushes out to help his brother, but the lady turns her guns on the little one – a few slaps for good measure. The brothers struggle to get up and rush away from the room. But there’s no place for them to go. No parents. No servant quarters. So they climb up to the mansion’s rooftop. It’s 48 degrees in the sun, but it doesn’t matter. They just need to be away from the mad woman.
Jameel is still bleeding from the head, and soon slips into unconsciousness. Javed watches helplessly. With nowhere to turn to, the boys lie in the sweltering heat, and soon, the 13-year-old passes away. Javed tries to wake his brother up, not being able to wrap his head around the fact that his brother has died. He goes down to his master, the same lady, and says his brother hasn’t woken up. A few slaps follow, and he runs away again. The lady realises that something has perhaps gone wrong and calls her husband. She explains the situation to him.
The husband returns home, a plan cooked in his head. He tries to cover up the murder and paint it as death by measles. And he is mostly successful. But the younger child, Javed, manages to escape from the mansion and informs his father of the violent death of his eldest son. The father, enraged and saddened, decides to lodge an FIR, under Articles 302 and 306. However, the murderer and abettor – being from an influential highbrow family – have connections, both with the DCO and the commissioner of the city, and they in turn pressurise Jameel’s father to back off.
However, a reputed NGO gets wind of the story and quickly comes into play. On their efforts, the story reaches the chief minister of the province, who in turn orders an inquiry – which is ongoing.
As things stand today, there is immense pressure on the aggrieved father to accept a Qisas and Diyat deal, aka blood money, in classic Raymond Davis style. The NGO is sheltering the father, saying that the level of servitude of his family to the influential family is so entrenched that if the father even sets eyes on the family’s ‘pir’, he will drop the case, let alone accept the blood money deal.
This here is a real story, from say four weeks ago in Multan. The lady in question is Hina Gilani and the abettor, her husband, is Faheem Bukhari. Although it was initially reported that she’s the niece of our former prime minister, the truth is, that they are from the same clan, not necessarily uncle and niece. But that’s doesn’t change the dynamics of master and servant, rich and poor.
Whatever the outcome of this case may be, the underlying principle is that the blood money law, along with crippling feudalism, is a major roadblock in the dispensation of justice in Pakistan – especially in cases that involve people from different socio-economic brackets. To put it simply, the rich can murder the poor and get away scot-free. The Qisas and Diyat Ordinance is also a haven for honour killings.
Remember the case of Samia Sarwar, who was married off by her parents at the age of 17? After suffering years of abuse, she finally decided to seek a divorce, but her own parents threatened her life. Frightened, she fled and met with human rights defender Hina Jilani. While visiting her office, Samia was shot dead by an assassin allegedly hired by her parents. Later, in court, the parents appeared as her daughter’s heirs and through the Qisas and Diyat Ordinance ‘forgave’ the assassin.
Honour was maintained, to hell with justice.
The writer is a media consultant and trainer. He tweets @aasimzkhan