I was still bleary-eyed and jet-lagged when I picked up The News (August 3, 1999) to read of what had been happening in my beloved country while I was away. The headline "Rumpus in Senate on Samia resolution" caught my eye. The Saima case had been in the news some three months ago; ofcourse I turned to it, eager to see how the august house was going to condemnthe horrible murder at Dastak. "Aha" I thought, "our Senators are finally getting round to it, and women in Pakistan will soon be safe."
That is what I thought.
After going through the news item I found that women were now at greater risk. There was soon going to be 'open season' declared on women. Murders of women was being condoned in the highest house, in the name of 'honour.' The Senate has sent out the message that an 'honourable' man can kill a 'disobedient' woman. An 'honourable' man who kills his women is safe from retribution in the 'land of the pure'.
After all, why should this not be so? An 'honourable' man deserves all honour. Senator Iqbal Haider wouldn't know about that, maybe he is not 'honourable' enough to realize that his honour is not tied to his own actions, but to those of the women in his family. He had the temerity to state that "today is the blackest day for the Senate as it has legitimized killing of women in the name of honour."
The honourable Haji Abdur Rehman knew better, being a Haji and a Pathan he knows all about honour. He knows that even debating the killing of 'disobedient' women is against our "religious and cultural sentiments."
I stand corrected of my earlier, incorrect beliefs. Ofcourse, it is a 'religious' duty to kill women who are 'disobedient'. Who knows all about religion better than a Haji would? After all he has been to the Holy Land and has been thoroughly cleansed of all sin!
We, the women of Pakistan, should rise to applaud the good Haji and Mr. Ajmal Khattak. They are so aware of our welfare!
We, the women of Pakistan, can look pityingly at the western women who have no such valiant 'protectors'.
We, the women of Pakistan, are happy to know that some of the signatories for the motion found the courage to admit their mistake and backed out at the last minute.
We, the women of Pakistan, can sleep in peace now we know we are not individuals but the 'honour' of men, (excluding ofcourse Mr. Iqbal Haider and Chaudery Aitzaz Ahsan who know nothing of 'honour'). Not being Pathans and maybe not having been to the house of God they would never understand the "religious and cultural sentiments" of 'honourable' men.
I suppose the murders of seven members of a family in Faisalabad (The News, August 2, 1999) are to be condoned too. After all, they were murdered by an 'honourable' man whose wife had left him and refused to return to his loving arms.
There is also news of the murder of eight of a family (including six children), being shot and clubbed to death (The News, August 3, 1999); but that was not an 'honourable' killing. It was over the theft of 2 goats, so I suppose the murderers will be punished.
Even the killing of a 17-year girl, an only child of a poor widow, murdered by her 'honourable' uncle (The News, August 2, 1999) is to be applauded.
I am sure our estimable Senators will make sure the 'honourable' husband who burned his wife in a village near Murree (The News, August 2 1999) is not punished. He is to be honoured according to our "religious and cultural sentiments."
And what about the woman who died of burn injuries inflicted by her in-laws (The News, August 3, 1999)? They, I suppose, are also 'honourable' and so unpunishable by the laws of the land.
The perpetrators of the gang-rape in Sawabi are being well dealt with. They have been served show-cause notices (The News, August 1, 1999) that state "Please show-cause within seven days from the receipt of this notice, as to why a major penalty of dismissal from the service should not be imposed upon you, as required under the NWFP government services (efficiency and discipline rules, 1973) on account of gross misconduct. Yes, gang-rape is just a gross misconduct!
In Hyderabad two MQM MPs have accused office bearers of the ruling party of Naushero Feroze of gang-raping a minor girl. They accuse the police of dragging their feet in registering a case, since the PM is alleged to have directed the police not to disturb workers of the PML. I don't believe one word of this slander against our honourable Prime Minister, since on the same page (The News, August 1 1999) he has urged for 'conducive working conditions' for women.
Mr. Shahid Hamid, the Governor of the Punjab has the correct picture of the status of women in Pakistan. On August 3, 1999 (The News) while addressing a women's delegation he stated, "women in Pakistan enjoy the equal rights and privileges under the constitution and law." He must know what he is talking about since no one corrected him. He must be very 'honourable' too.
I knew we were in safe hands when I read about Maulana Bijligar's speech (The News, August 2, 1999) at a rally held in Peshawar titled 'Death to America', which termed Bin Laden a hero of Islam (for indiscriminately killing innocent non-Muslims, ofcourse!) The good and honourable Maulana had roundly criticized everyone he could think of, Nawaz Shareef, Imran Khan, Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, President Clinton, the USA, cricket (the game not the insect), 'Muslims who have strayed' and (everyone's pet-hate), 'westernized women'. So there!
There is also a news item that will make foreigners dance with joy. It announces that there is no curb on foreigners to visit the N-W.F P or the Tribal Areas. I was wonder-struck, do people actually want spend their hard-earned cash to visit this great and wonderful piece of God's land!
Meanwhile, with our 'honour' thus intact and in safe hands, it is business as usual. Preparations for the celebrations of Independence Day are well afoot. To add to the joyful occasion, the COAS has informed us that the Kargil battle has redeemed our military honour adding a golden chapter to our history. He must be right, though his logic does escape a silly woman like me!
So let us rejoice, with our honour intact and a golden chapter added to our history; but be careful of playing loud music and dancing with joy in the streets, the police fill up their jails with such 'miscreants'!
Squeaky-Clean Land: Suggested reading. Is it coming true?
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