Eleven women released from Karachi Central Prison -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Eleven women released from Karachi Central Prison

Many stuck for want of bail money

KARACHI, July 14 2006: Eleven women prisoners, including a foreigner, tasted freedom on July 13 when they were released from the Karachi Central Prison after surety for their bail was accepted by the court. From the 180 prisoners in jail, 80 are held under the Hudood Ordinance of which 21 have been granted bail. After the issuance of orders from the home department, the process of release began in the evening. In the first round, eleven prisoners were freed and the remaining ten would be released after the completion of the official procedure.

40 year-old Khalida Parveen is one of the 21 lucky prisoners who would be able to furnish their bail. She was in the prison for five years without being convicted in court. She cannot believe the ‘day has actually come’ and is looking forward to meet her children whom she hasn’t met since she was imprisoned. “I’ll be going to my brother’s house who lives close by and will then head off to Punjab where my family is,” she said with obvious glee.

However none of the prisoners left on July 13 because they said they needed time to pack their clothes and other belongings. “We cannot express how happy we are and are thankful to God the President who took up the issue of women emancipation seriously and proved that he wasn’t merely talking but was concerned about its implementation too,” said another prisoner. The only foreigner to be released, Keith – a Nigerian, said that she was looking forward to joining her husband and her daughter in Nigeria. She was overjoyed at being released.

While some 21 prisoners are rejoicing at the news of their release, there are others still awaiting for someone in their family or the government to pay their bail able amount. Jahanzeba, 25, has been imprisoned for a year and a half now along with her husband Gul Fakeer after being charged with Zina under the Hudood ordinance. “I am dying to meet my three children for over a year now but because I don’t have 50,000 rupees for my bail, I’m not sure if I would be released soon,” she said. Sindh Home Minister Rauf Siddiqui, who was present on the occasion, said that he was pleased to announce the order of their release after the present government took the initiative to fight injustice against women.

“This would not have been possible without strict orders of implementation by President Musharraf and the coordination of the home department with the jail authorities and the court,” said Rauf Siddiqui. He admitted that no such action was taken by the previous governments in the past, but ‘it’s better late than never’ he added. He also appealed that those prisoners with minimal offence should not be charged with a high bailable amount. Rauf handed over donations worth Rs1 million to Justice (Retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid who is now actively involved in helping with legal and other aid to prisoners.

Both Justice (Retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid and his wife have been working for the rights of these prisoners for several years. Two businessmen donated money along with a provincial minister. The respected judge, however, sounded a warning. “On November 6, 2006 the offence would be considered non-bailable again,” he noted, adding “at present according to the amended Hudood ordinance, the court has no right to decide whether or not the offence is bailable. “

He said that the judiciary should play a responsible role here and the parliamentarians too who should propose the amended bill in the National Assembly to make it a part of the constitution otherwise according to Article 89 of the constitution the Ordinance would lapse in four months time. Justice Zahid added that the perception that most of the criminal acts are committed by people belonging to the lower stratum of the society is incorrect and it is unfair to stereotype their class and be prejudiced towards them.

“Prisoners need to be dealt with humanely and provision of justice should be guaranteed to them regardless of their gender and financial background. Also similar laws for male and juvenile prisoners should be passed who have been detained under trial for nominal offences,” he said. There are over 10,000 male, female and juvenile prisoners across the country out of which 2,000 are females Overall in Sindh there are a total of 163 prisoners out of which 125 would benefit from the ordinance. According to details, 78 inmates would be released from Karachi along with 19 children, 30 from Hyderabad, 6 from Larkana and 10 from Sukkur.

The names of the eleven inmates enlisted to be released are Fouzia wife of Javed, Sameena wife of Khaliq Ahmed, Amina Bibi wife of Mohammad Azam, Kaneez Fatima wife of Nadeem, Komal wife of Zaheer Ali, Nazeera wife of Mohammad Nawaz, Hayatan wife of Sabir Ali, Hajra Bibi wife of Abdul Shakoor, Raani daughter of Mohammad Akram, Shakeela wife of Mohammad Saeed and Shabana wife of Mohammad Hashim. Six of them were charged with Zina, while the remaining prisoners were falsely charged for robbery, family dispute, fraud and murder. The shortest term served was two months by Hayatan.
Source: The News