Mukhtaran to move SC despite life fear -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Mukhtaran to move SC despite life fear

ISLAMABAD,March 06 ,2005: Mukhtaran Mai, the 30-year old victim of the gang-rape on orders of a tribal chief in remote Meerwala village of Punjab, Saturday said she would move Supreme Court against the acquittal of five of the six accused by a Lahore High Court bench.

The LHC bench Thursday commuted death sentence to the sixth accused to life imprisonment. The two-member bench ruled that evidence produced before the trial court was insufficient and there were faults in the police investigation. Detailed judgment in this case has yet to come.

A frayed but courageous Mai told a crowded news conference here in her native Seriaki language that she would not quit Pakistan and her “case is also being adjudged by the court of the Almighty”.

“I will fight them out while staying in my homeland,” she said while asking journalists to back her in this struggle. Mukhtaran also announced to keep running the school she had opened herself.

She was brutally and publicly gang-raped in June 2002 by four volunteers on the orders of a village court, or Panchayat. Mai’s then 12-year-old brother Abdul Shakoor had been seen walking with a girl from the more influential Mastoi tribe.

Mukhtaran went to the village council after her 12-year-old brother was allegedly sodomised by men from the powerful Mastoi tribe. The influential Panchayat ordered Mai’s rape to avenge their ‘honor’ in turn as more than 100 people sat outside.

Mai’s family sat helplessly while she was dragged into a room, even as she screamed and pleaded for mercy. To further humiliate her, and make an example of those who would defy the power of local strongmen, she was paraded naked before hundreds of onlookers. Her father covered her with a shawl and walked her home.

“I will rather die at the hands of such animals than giving up my right to justice and I will pursue my case despite threat to my life,” she declared.

The poor victim from the under-developed and primitive southern Punjab district pointedly claimed that an influential tribal leader was backing the culprits. “We are facing serious threats to our lives,” Mukhtaran said.

“Not I but my entire family is at risk at the hands of the freed accused,” she said and appealed to the authorities not free the accused.

Regarding the LHC decision she said: “I was shocked to hear the decision of the Lahore High Court, and now would knock at the doors of the superior judicial institution, Supreme Court of Pakistan, in quest for justice.”

Farzana Bari, head of Women Development Organisation, said the high court has stunned the entire nation and “people are unable to decipher the meaning of justice in the light of the decision.”

IA Rehman, director of Pakistan Human Rights Commission, said that “people have been losing confidence in the police and the judicial process so they resort to their own means.”

The veteran human rights activist said: “If you support a military government amending the constitution, you cannot expect the ordinary people to respect law.”

According to Mai, senior advocate and renowned politician Aitezaz Ahsan would plead her case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

On the other hand, various prominent and well-connected lawyers are moving no stone unturned to get the high-profile criminal case. The offer has so far been formally given to Mukhtaran Mai by Babar Awan Advocate, Naheeda Mehboob Ilahi Advocate and Rab Nawaz Advocate besides a few others.
Source: The News
Date:3/6/2005