By Rauf Klasra (Monday, September 01, 2008)
ISLAMABAD: The PPP government in Balochistan is said to have finally prepared a twisted version of the case in which five women were recently buried alive in the desert. The report is to be presented in the Senate on Monday.
This belated and misleading version is being widely seen as a bid to save the perpetrator of this crime, said to be the younger brother of a PPP minister in the provincial cabinet.
Acting Chairman Senate Jan Muhammad Jamali is set to give a ruling on the brutal treatment of the five Baloch women after the report is tabled in the Senate on Monday. Jamali, a former chief minister of Balochistan, is now facing a big dilemma as he will be closely watched by the vigilant media and an outraged civil society when he sits on the seat of the Senate chairman, and gives a judgment on this shocking human tragedy.
The question is: will Jamali stand up and be counted for the rights of the oppressed women of his province, or will he prefer to be seen loyal to the centuries-old tribal tradition of killing women in the name of honour?
There seem to be a consensus among the tribal chiefs on this issue. None of the leading Pashtoon or Baloch leaders have spoken a single critical word on this tragedy so far, as they prefer to respect the tribal decisions of killing their own women in the name of honour.
The main culprit behind this gory drama is said to be a serial killer, who had already killed women of his Umrani tribe in the past in the name of honour. He has never been apprehended only because of his connections.
This correspondent made a call to Leader of the House in the Senate Raza Rabbani to get his version but he did not attend the call.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry is yet to issue orders for the appointment of senior policeman Tariq Khosa to investigate the killing of the five women. Interior Minister Rahman Malik had told this correspondent last week that Tariq Khosa had been appointed to probe the case, but sources said no written orders had been issued so far. Sources said the appointment of Tariq Khosa as an inquiry officer was not good news for the tribal chiefs as the officer enjoys a reputation of digging out blind cases without coming under pressure from any side.
Official sources claim that the Senate would be told that the five women were first fired at and were buried after ensuring that they were dead. The sources said the focus of the half-cooked inquiry report would be to shift the centre of attention from the burying alive of the women, as this was considered to be a more inhuman offence. Now, as in the future, the government would claim that the women were first killed and then buried.
Earlier last week, the Senate had witnessed a big uproar when Senator Yasmeen Shah agitated over the burial of the women. Senator Israrullah Zehri had defended the killing of the five women saying it was part of tribal traditions and no one should say anything in the Upper House about this incident. This shocking statement had outraged many Senators including Jamal Leghari, Maulana Ghafoor Haidari, Kamil Ali Agha and others, who challenged the statement of Senator Israr Zehri.
Acting Chairman Senate Jan Muhammad Jamali had also stated that the people sitting in Islamabad do not understand the tribal culture and they should not discuss it unless they know about these traditions.
Leader of the House in the Senate Raza Rabbani had told the House that he would present the report on the killing of the women on Monday. The government is said to have now received a new report from Balochistan, after the one sent earlier by IG Asif Nawaz was rejected outright by the Secretary Interior Kamal Shah.
The laughable report of IG Asif Nawaz was an insult to the high office of the IG, who had just collected items from newspapers and converted them into a report, which had made the interior secretary furious.
Meanwhile, the Womenís Action Forum in a press note has said the it is shocked, horrified and outraged on three counts. First on July 14 five women were brutally tortured and buried alive because three of them had the courage to transgress cultural boundaries by opting for court marriages of their own free will.
Hameeda, Ruqayya and Raheema are three of the five victims who were killed in the name of ìhonourî in Roopashakh, Goth Qaboola, at the border of Naseerabad-Jafarabad districts in Balochistan.
The WAF said, ìWe are also outraged that the local police and law- enforcing agencies not only refused to take action for six weeks, but they are even denying the occurrence of the crime because of the strong political pressure and influence being exerted on them.
Like many other 'honour' killings, this one has also been perpetrated with the knowledge, permission and active support of the local government head. This includes the reported use of a government vehicle to transport the five women from one village to the other. The district Nazim, Sardar Fateh Umrani, is the brother of the Minister of State for Housing from that area, and are both PPP stalwarts.
The WAF statement said, as if it was not enough, Senator Mir Israrullah Zehri (BNP-A) stood on the floor of the Senate and went on defending the burial of these women in the name of Baloch custom and traditions. When a woman Senator and two male Senators protested against his defending this indefensible crime, the Acting Chairman of the Senate, Jan Muhammad Jamali, intervened and refused to condemn the killings, hiding behind ìthe need to wait for a government investigationî.
The WAF statement said they would rather take the word of the local journalist and this correspondent than wait for an investigation where the victimsí families, neighbours, the local police and the provincial media are too terrorised by the ruling clique to speak up.