The drama of Kunwar Ahsan and Riffat Afridi's elopement has not yet come to a close. In any sane society it would have been a non-issue with whom a grown man and woman chose to spend the rest of their life. But we have different values.

First Last year, Saima and Arshad were hounded out of their country, merely because they wanted to live out their lives with each other. Now we have a similar 'cause celebre'. How many unrecorded Riffat/Kunwar and Saima/Arshad stories end in tragedy we have no way of knowing.

I do not know how many people believe in the reality of Kunwar Ahsan's fears for Riffat's life, if she is handed into the 'safe' custody of her family; but we in the Frontier know how very true they are. Many young boys and girls who dared to flout the unwritten rules have never been heard of again.

In a new twist to the whole drama, a 'husband' has been conjured up for her, by Riffat's family. Without legal proof we are supposed to believe in his claim! I wonder at the thought processes of Riffat's family. Whom do they think they are fooling?

By sensationalizing their daughter's elopement they have succeeded in 'cutting their nose to spite their face'. If they believe they have been shamed, if anyone has dishonored them, it is they. If anyone is responsible for the deaths during the riots to recover Riffat, it is they.

Yet, whom do we find in chains on the front page of The News? Kunwar Ahsan! The victim. I had always believed that our legal system followed the concept that, 'an accused is innocent until proven guilty'. I was wrong. Drug barons buy their way to freedom; murderers roam freely and kill with impunity; looters of the state coffers are allowed to enjoy the fruits of their sins in luxury; but Kunwar Ahsan is in chains for marrying the woman he loves!

I do realize that Justice is fast becoming an extinct commodity in Pakistan, but to this level? Have we sunk so low? Is there no hope for individual justice for the citizens of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan? Is justice going to be a politically expedient commodity, only meted out according to ones nuisance value?

Unfortunately Tribal 'jirgas', and tribal laws still apply to the tribal territories, but in Karachi? ... Cosmopolitan Karachi?

If and when the Tribals leave the fastness of their eyries in the mountains, they should be made to realize in no uncertain terms that the laws of the land then apply to them, as to any other Pakistani. They are not the sacred cows of Pakistan, they CANNOT consider themselves above the law of the land.

How and why were they allowed to take the law in their hands? Why have we not heard of the instigators of the recent riots caused by Riffat/Kunwar's elopement being arrested? Especially since they are brazen enough to have threatened more bloodshed, if denied Riffat's blood.

I would blame the emasculated city administration, the whole lopsided attitude we have to Human Rights and Justice. When the law enforcers are held hostage and can be blackmailed into treating a victim as a criminal there is no hope for Islam's highest ideal, 'Adl' (Justice).

The Holy Prophet of Islam (may peace be upon him) enforced as one of the essential teachings of his creed, "respect for women". Islam places women on a footing of perfect equality with men in the exercise of their legal powers and functions. Is the denial of a woman's rights 'respect' for her?

In an Islamic society marriage is treated as a contract between two adults. It is based on mutual consent. As soon as a girl is of age, Islamic law vests in her all the rights which belong to her as an independent human being. A woman who is 'sui juries' can under no circumstances be married without her own consent. Yet we allow it to happen in the name of tradition and custom! Tribal law ignores the needs of progressive humanity, does it also ignore the demands of Islam?

A friend, Zalan Alam Khan, once sent me a quotation that is very relevant, and should make us pause and think. It says, "Evil is when you allow badness to exist; and walk away without helping, without caring. Evil wins, not by its ferocity; but because of our complicity".

Are we going to stand by and allow the brutalization of our society to continue? Is the law of the jungle going to apply in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan? Are we going to allow the Evil in our society to win because of our complicity?

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