Yasir Pirzada's Blog

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Mukhtaran-“My” other side!

Our country has a unique capability of producing events which instantly attract international attention in the most negative manner possible, be it Osama bin Laden or Mukhtaran Mai. So when a person like me starts developing a column in his mind about the Mukhtaran incident, suddenly Bin Laden comes out of nowhere from the compound of Abbottabad thus throwing away all the past incidents in a basket having zero value. Nevertheless, despite the bizarre episode of Osama which has virtually shaken the whole country (for yet another time and this is not the last time for sure when we are shaken) I am still determined to write about Mukhtaran. This is simply because of a reason that the other side of this case is still hidden from many of us.

First things first. There is lot of uproar after the recent Supreme Court judgment which acquitted 13 of 14 men accused in the Mai case. Like others, my first impression was also the same that justice has not been done. It reminded me of Jessica Lall, a New Delhi based ramp model who was murdered in front of dozens of eye witnesses at a socialite party on the night of 29 April 1999 by the son of a wealthy Congress politician. After extensive hearings with nearly a hundred witnesses, a Delhi trial court acquitted 9 accused in this case thus exposing enormous flaws in the Indian judicial system. This lead to a public outrage and consequently hundreds of thousands of people e-mailed their petitions to the President and others seeking remedies for the judicial debacle of the country. Two movies were also made on this murder trial; one is “Halla Bol” while the other is “Who Killed Jessica?”

Apparently there seems to be many similarities in both the Mukhtaran and Jessica case but this is not the fact. A former western (female) news correspondent Bronwyn Curran who is also author of a book on the Mukhtaran case has dared to expose the truth in this media frenzy atmosphere. In the words of Bronwyn, “In 2005-06, after many months painstakingly poring through every police statement, medical record, witness testimony, and cross examination transcript in this case, coupled with multiple visits to Mirwala, Jatoi and Dera Ghazi Khan for extensive interviews with members of both sides of this case, I reached the same conclusion as the Supreme Court has in 2011. The Lahore High Court reached the same conclusion in 2005. Indeed, I would challenge anyone who has opportunity to pore through all such records and interview members and associates of all sides in this case to come up with any conclusion other than 13 of the 14 accused are innocent.”

There are atleast five points in this case which need attention. First, Mukhtaran is no doubt a victim of a terrible crime, i.e. sexual assault in which a woman is forced to marry against her will; hence the culprits deserve severe punishment. Second, the claim that Mukhtaran was paraded naked before crowd of people was thrown out in the original 2002 trial. Third, the perception that Mastoi tribe is much wealthier and influential than Mukhtaran’s tribe is also false as police admitted under cross examination that Mukhtaran’s clan owned more land and was more influential. Fourth, what was the crime of those men who were kept in jail for six years since 2005, without charge? Who is responsible for the agony, pain and torture from which these men suffered during these years, media, human right activists, police or courts? Last but not the least, the charge of the gang rape was lodged by a local cleric and a journalist on the basis of rumours. Mukhtaran was out of this until she was dragged to the police station where she found a statement already written by the cleric in her name. Without being able to read it, Mukhtaran attested it with her thumbprint. Here, I am again constrained to quote Bronwyn verbatim, “The next day the charge was in a local newspaper, the following day in national and international press, and just three days later Ms Mai had a cheque for Rs. 500,000 in her hand from President Pervez Musharraf. No investigation had taken place and Ms Mai was already both an international heroine and wealthier than any illiterate villager from a wretched Indus backwater could have ever dreamed.”

What else is left for us now to believe? Since, we all are bad learners; I have no optimism that we would learn anything positive from this case. However, those of us who formulate their opinion on the basis of facts rather than rhetoric do certainly realize that in this flood of information, true facts are really hard to extract and they are often quite bitter. Mukhtaran’s case is not similar to Jessica Lall, rather it is similar to Afia Siddiqi whose mystery is also shrouding under the facts.

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May 18, 2011 Posted by | Politics, Society, Women | Leave a comment

Jamshed Dasti v Nancy Pelosi

Writing humor these days is not an easy task by any standards. Whenever I start writing a piece, some dreadful event struck to my mind like suicide bombings in Lahore and Quetta, repeated drone attacks, miseries of people hit by flood, the Sialkot lynching and last but not the least gambling scandal that rocked Pakistani cricket lately. Nothing even remotely is funny about all that is happening around us; and that’s why I sometimes fail to understand why our leading news channels are always eager to get humor out of events like drone attacks! However, thanks to some “imported” channels that have got a really good sense of humor, one can really enjoy the satire they produce quite originally.

Lately, I watched one of the most hilarious clips on an American TV channel which was filmed on the ordinary American people on the streets by the channel itself. The interviewer was shown asking simple questions to the people on the street and that’s what some of them answered:

Q: Name a country that begins with U?

Some people said Yugoslavia, even Utopia but nobody thought of United States of America!

Q: What’s the religion of Israel?

Hold your breath because people answered “Israeli, Muslim, Islamic and Catholic”. We here in Pakistan believe that it’s the Israeli lobby that spends billions of dollars in the US to influence people and politics of America but it looks as if they need to spend even more!

Q: What’s religion are Buddhist monks?

And the answer was “Islamic, I don’t know!” It’s the same way if someone here asks “Who wrote Dewan-e-Ghalib?” And he gets the answer, “Allama Iqbal!”

Q: Who won the Vietnam War?

Surprisingly a girl gave the right answer this time by saying, “We did!” But then hurriedly said, “Were we even in the Vietnam War?” How innocent!

Q: In terms of the war on terror, who do you think should be the next country to invade?

A drunk man gave the most hilarious answer but with full conviction and seriousness. He said, “Russia, China, Indonesia, Brazil, Canada.” Perhaps that was the real axis of evil in his mind at that time. Another answer was equally good which came from a guy who was jogging on the roadside, he said, “Ok I am bit mixed up over the Palestinian and the Israelis. Which one is throwing the rocks?” No more comments needed!

Q: Kofi Anan is a drink…true or false?

And the answer was “Coffee is a drink.”

The interviewer also asked number of similar questions and got funny replies but at the moment we leave ordinary Americans here and see how much intelligent are their representatives. Let’s take the example of Nancy Pelosi. She is the current Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and the first female Speaker of the House. As Speaker, Pelosi is second in the line of presidential succession, following Vice President Joe Biden, which makes her the highest-ranking female politician in American history. Now, with this background, Ms Pelosi seems to be far more intelligent and bright than our very own Jamshed Dasti but hold on; before passing such a judgment, let me share with you a true incident about Ms Pelosi which I read in some paper. It goes like this. A noted psychiatrist was a guest speaker at an academic function where Nancy Pelosi happened to appear. Ms Pelosi took the opportunity to schmooze the good doctor a bit and asked him a question with which he was most at ease. “Would you mind telling me, doctor”, she asked, “How you detect a mental deficiency in somebody who appears completely normal?”

“Nothing is easier,” he replied, “You ask a simple question which anyone should answer with no trouble. If the person hesitates, that puts you on the track.”

“What sort of question?” asked Ms Pelosi.

Well, you might ask, ‘Captain Cook made three trips around the world and died during one of them. Which one?”

The first female Speaker of the House of Representatives and the highest ranking female politician in the American history thought a moment, and then said with a nervous laugh, “You wouldn’t happen to have another example, would you? I must confess I don’t know much about history…”

Now guys if you still think that this woman Nancy Pelosi is more intelligent than our fake degree holder Jamshed Dasti, think twice because I am quite sure if Ms Pelosi contests an election against Mr Dasti (at some neutral venue), the latter will win with thumping majority!

February 4, 2011 Posted by | Humor, Politics, Satire, Society | 1 Comment