BY: RIDA ASAD
Student of MPhil (IR) Quaid-i-Azam University
Human Right Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) documented 737 honour crimes between June 2017 to August 2018, however, it does not depict the complete picture due to unreported issues. Honour killing in Pakistan has been a controversial issue, also known as Karo-Kari. Generally it is believed that the issue of honour killing is rooted in the social norm of gender discrimination where women are subjugated by men due to patriarchal nature of society. But it has been observed that men has also been accused of and sentenced by the Jirga but the women have been victim to it in a greater number. The Jirga system in Pakistan works since state’s inception where a so called self-formulated judicial system was imposed on people which has now became a strong cultural value and considered above in rank than that of Islamic values.
It is clear that karo-kari is neither mentioned nor acceptable in Islam no matter what, but unfortunately, Islamic leaders are until now failed to take action against it. In addition to that, weak laws, lack of provisions and the execution delay has also played role to damage the society. According to a research of Pew, released in 2013, 45% of Pakistani respondent replied the permissibility of honour killings among the 39-country survey with Muslim majority. It is pitiful that in the world of liberal values, there is no acknowledgement to these abuses rather heard randomly and passes like a sporadic incidents.
The case of Kohistan is about the structural violence, which happened with the killings of 5 women, when a video was leaked in which women with covered head and some with covered face were just clapping and a man, name Afzal Kohistani was dancing at a wedding. The video got viral and the killings of those women were ordered by the Jirga whereas Afzal succeeded in running out of town with his family and petitioned his case in Supreme Court in 2012. After which, three of his brothers were also killed. The case got complicated and Vice Asia has posted a video with comprehensive research.
According to which, the Jirga head explains that the killings are not acceptable in Islam and those women are not killed, and that the only punishment given in this case is to put a cut on man’s body and let the blood flow out. But Afzal gave his verdict that those females were tortured by burning their bodies with boiled water and killed. later, Afzal was also found shot dead in Abbottabad on March 2019.
In this case, if one observes, there are a range of problems as for instance if it was issue of parda, the ladies were with covered head. Similarly, the Islamic values were also not an issue and the punishment meant to be given which was culturally adopted was also not to kill and to let the women free. These Karo-Kari issues are rooted in the Dor-e-Jahiliyat when a man buried his two infant daughters as the possibility of shame was linked to their acts when they get young. Islam has given rights to the women and the men equally. In that context the problem is mostly about the power exercise, shame, identity problems, flawed judicial system in the form of Jirga, acceptance of extremist values, delayed Judicial system of Pakistan, lack of issue sensitivity, lack of education, intolerance, so forth and so on.
The question arises here is that, wouldn’t this case leave any prints on the psyche of Afzal’s children? Would the victims stay quiet or would they again seek help from judiciary? Wouldn’t a trust deficit be promoted? Would this violence be in favor of social, economic and political aspects of state? Hope for a good change in every aspect is the one thing that can keep the state going.