Another face of vani tradition
MIANWALI, March 25 2006: History bears testimony to the fact that the repercussions of any drive initiated and sustained at the instance of foreign donor agencies, irrespective of the social significance of the issue and people involved, are regrettable. And when such a treatment is meted out in case of the menace of vani, one can foresee the plight of society.
In the draconian tribal tradition of vani, a girl is married to a person (whatever his age or social status may be) as a penalty for the wrong of her elders or family.
One such instance came to light when a marriage party returned without brides in Daudkhel Town of Mianwali district, about 22 kilometres from here.
According to information gleaned by Dawn, a maulvi of the area refused to perform Nikah of the two brides who had obtained khula through a family court from their ex-husbands with whom their Nikah were solemnised in childhood under vani traditions.
The Maulana was of the view that “the family court could not dissolve the girls’ Nikah solemnised according to Islamic injunctions since the judges of the family courts do not qualify to be Qazi of Shariat court. He declared the earlier Nikah of the girls by their wali as absolutely valid, no matter it was performed under the vani tradition.
In April 1985, Amanullah Khan, son of Sher Muhammad Khan, was booked under section 302 of PPC for the murder of Ataullah Khan, son of Alam Khan of Daudkhel town, over land dispute. Amanullah absconded for four years and on his arrest the Mianwali sessions court awarded him death sentence.
Before the execution of death sentence, the elders and common friends of both the parties intervened and effected compromise against consideration of Rs250,000 and hands of two daughters of the convicts given in vani to the two sons of the deceased. Not to forget that both the parties were closely related.
Verbal Shari Nikah of Kalsoom Bibi (six years) with Ikramullah Khan and Nusrat Bibi (eight years) with Saifullah Khan (12 years) were performed in 1990 by their walis. After the compromise, Amanullah’s life was saved and he was acquitted.
As time went by, both the girls got education up to graduation level while both the boys remained illiterate. When the girls attained the age of marriage, their husbands sought consummation of marriage. The girls, however, refused to honour the elders’ decisions and preferred to approach the NGOs and the police to save them from becoming vani by levelling certain allegations of threat advanced by their husbands. This prompted the boys to have a recourse to court by filing suits for restitution of conjugal rights to avoid the police pressure. The family court instead of decreeing the suits dissolved the relationships and accepted plea for khula.
Thereafter, the marriages of both the girls were arranged with different matches. But this time the area maulvi refused to perform Nikah.
The elders of the girls are, in the meantime, persuading the grooms (under vani tradition) to divorce the girls so that their fresh Nikah could be performed. It is learnt that the boys are demanding blood money of their father in lieu of vani commitment.
They have further told elders of the girls that they would avenge the murder of their father if their demand was not fulfilled since “they have to live in this society keeping their necks high.” Now both the families are in a predicament and the incident may serve as an eye opener for the so-called human rights activists.