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Pakistan is a femicidal nation where we silence all women who disobey, anger or even irritate a man

Wednesday 28 July 2021, by siawi3


Noor of our nation

Rafia Zakaria

Published July 28, 2021 - Updated about 7 hours ago

I DID not know Noor Mukaddam personally, but I am related to her family and thus to their suffering. But one does not have to know Noor or be related to her to be utterly gutted and devastated by her death. The circumstances of the case are well-known by now and it would be accurate to say that they have devastated an entire country.

Moments of such deep and soul-crushing tragedy are rare; they stun and surprise not simply as a consequence of individual facts but also in their capacity to reveal the face of the nation that may at other times be obscured by the bows and baubles society affixes to pretty itself up.

Editorial: It would not be an exaggeration to describe Pakistan as no country for women

It is also a moment when we are all shaken by moral whiplash, slapped awake and forced to confront the absolute brutality of the society we have created, one that permitted a killing whose horror must never leave us. Noor has left us — truly light has left us — sitting with this record of our astonishing failure in the darkness of grief.

Noor’s death came in the wake of a lurid melee of cases of Pakistani men slaughtering Pakistani women. Just days before her death, Pakistan, or rather those Pakistanis who mourn such crimes and killings, had witnessed another act of bloodthirsty femicide. Quratulain, whose picture as a beautiful glowing bride was put side by side with the photo of her bruised and battered corpse, was killed allegedly by her husband.

Perhaps the new tools of virtual connection can bring together the grieving whose goal is to create a Pakistan that does not just belong to men.

If her bloated and beaten face were not devastating enough, there was the testimony of her young daughter narrating, in the lilting, sing-song voice of a child, the moment-by-moment narrative of how her mother was beaten to death. She said, he put on songs — to drown out the noise of the torture — but she, along with her three younger siblings, heard everything. She saw it, too, her mother being doused in water and shivering in the air conditioning, the punches and the beating her father dealt out, a dying mother whose cries for help were unheard or ignored.

When it was all over, her father reportedly went to sit in the car and drink, leaving the children, the youngest only two years old, in the house with their mother’s corpse. Society’s truth falls off the lips of children, pure and untouched as they are by the filth of ulterior motives and the dictates of ego that taint the rest of us. Pakistan’s truth is that we kill women and leave children to watch over their bodies.

Quratulain’s murderer is behind bars for the moment, but he need not worry. If you can count on one thing in Pakistan, it is the unceasing march of murders of women; one happened today, another yesterday and several more will occur before the week is out.

Sitting in his jail cell, her alleged killer can feel confident, even smug, that the attention given to Noor will perhaps turn public attention away from him, and he, the son of a locally powerful man in Hyderabad, will be quietly bailed out of prison and roam free. In Pakistan in 2021, monsters roam loose but women are restrained, constrained, maimed and killed. No one has even thought about what he might do to the little girl, his daughter, who told everyone the truth about how her mother was murdered in cold blood.

As if on cue, to illustrate just how rich men walk free, Shah Hussain, the monster who brutally stabbed law student Khadija Siddiqui 23 times, walked out of prison on July 24 without completing his sentence, which was a paltry five years in the first place. We forgive the killers, we forget the crimes and we bury the women. Shah Hussain is roaming around as if nothing had happened, as if the life of a woman he stabbed has not been ruined.

Somewhere in our midst are those Pakistanis who are truly anguished and ashamed of how this country failed Noor Mukaddam and all those who have come before her. For them, the challenge of the coming days will be to translate grief into action and into attention. Public scrutiny plays a role in pushing prosecutorial action, in ensuring that the government and authorities do not drop the ball, that the parents of a killer do not pretend to empathise with the victim in one moment and refuse to turn over evidence in the other.

There is no doubt that it is the continuity of public attention that will ensure that a killer caught red-handed with the victim’s blood all over him be made to pay for his crimes. Concerned Pakistanis who want this to be a turning point must put their heads together to see how they can create Facebook groups, news update alerts, and newsletters so that factual information about the cases (rather than all the anonymous hearsay circulating on social media) can be shared.

Change has evaded Pakistan until now, but perhaps the new tools of virtual connection can bring together an army of the grieving whose goal is not to vanquish any foreign nation but rather to do what generations before them have failed to do, to create a Pakistan that does not just belong to men.

The death of Noor Mukaddam, the deaths of so many women who have died at the hands of bloodthirsty men, is what weighs on us now. It is as if the sheer horror of Noor’s case has suddenly made us all feel the burden of the bodies of dead women killed by our inability to punish men. The rage, the helplessness, the recurrent thoughts of what was done for her, have left us all grief-stricken and gasping. We grieve for Noor but we also gasp at the truth that Pakistan is a femicidal nation where we silence all women who disobey, anger or even irritate a man.

The only deliverance from our collective tragedy is through a collective reckoning unlike anything before, a piece-by-piece dissection of just how we became the sort of society where darkness kills the light.

The writer is an attorney teaching constitutional law and political philosophy.



Forever denounce Zahir and his actions, says Jaffer family on Noor’s brutal murder

Published July 28, 2021 - Updated 6 minutes ago

In this file photo, police escort Zahir Zakir Jaffer to court to seek extension in his physical remand. — Screengrab via Twitter/File

A week after the gruesome murder of Noor Mukadam in Islamabad — an incident that has sparked national outcry over violence against women in Pakistan — the Jaffer family has issued a statement condemning the actions of primary suspect, Zahir Zakir Jaffer.

“The Jaffer family extends its deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Noor Mukadam. We pray her soul rests in eternal peace. We know that no amount of time will bring back the joy you have lost nor ease your pain,” the statement said.

“Our shock and grief at this horrific act has led to a prolonged silence that we very much regret. However, we categorically condemn this atrocity and forever denounce Zahir and his actions,” it said.

Noor, 27, daughter of former ambassador Shaukat Mukadam, was found murdered at a residence in Islamabad’s upscale Sector F-7/4 on July 20.

A first information report (FIR) was registered later the same day against Zahir, who was arrested from the site of the murder, under Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of the victim’s father.

Since then, it has emerged that Zahir tortured Noor with a knuckleduster before beheading her. On Monday, Zahir also confessed to committing the crime.

On July 25, police added four more sections of the Pakistan Penal Code, mainly related to abetment and concealing evidence, in the FIR and arrested Zahir’s parents as well as the family guards.

Therapy works refutes ’false allegations’

Therapy Works, a counselling and psychotherapy service, on Tuesday issued a statement against the “baseless and false allegations” it said were being levelled against in the aftermath of Noor’s murder.

The organisation came under public scrutiny as the murder investigation unfolded and it was revealed that Zahir was associated with it. Whether he was authorised to work as a therapist by the service has yet to be ascertained by investigators.

“We are being subjected to unfounded vitriol, and baseless and false allegations are being made against us in the media,” Therapy Works said in the statement shared on its Facebook page. It said the allegations had caused “extreme distress” to its students, patients and staff members.

It clarified that no staff of Therapy Works had been detained or arrested as part of the investigation. “Our international credentials/accreditations have already been submitted to concerned authorities and are available to our students for perusal,” it added.

The statement said Noor’s murder had “shaken the whole nation to its very core”, and expressed support for the victim’s family.

“We will spare no effort to facilitate the investigation of this heinous crime so that the culprits are punished as per law,” it said, adding, however, that Therapy Works deemed it “inappropriate” to comment on any aspect of the case till the investigation was completed.

“We have been made aware that any disclosure of facts prior to the conclusion of the investigation would only result in prejudicing the case. We will be issuing a detailed statement as soon as the situation permits,” it said.

The service further said it had collected all “defamatory accusations made in the media against us” and vowed to take legal action against the persons who it said had falsely defamed it.



Jameela Jamil urges men in Pakistan to speak about the Noor Mukaddam case

Updated about 16 hours ago

Desk Report

The British star is disgusted at what’s happening in the country.

British actor Jameela Jamil is appalled at the Noor Mukaddam case that has shaken Pakistan to its core and given space to a multitude of conversations surrounding femicide, violence and lack of women’s safety in the country.

Mukadam was the 27-year-old daughter of a former Pakistani diplomat who was murdered on July 20 in Islamabad. Zahir Jaffer has confessed to the murder in police custody.

Taking to social media to highlight how “disgusted” she felt having learnt the details of the case, The Good Place star opened up about how horrifying it is that cases of abuse no longer surprise her given the “ongoing violence against women in India and Pakistan.”

“I talk about it a fair bit and continue to urge men in the public eye to speak out about this,” said Jamil. "About the fact that girls and women deserve equal rights and basic safety at the very least. This is a men’s problem, but only we [women] pay the price for it,” she declared, saying she longs for a time when reading news about men’s violence against women in Pakistan comes as a shock to her.