Pakistan student stabbed 23 times fights to see her attacker jailed

In this picture taken on June 8, 2018, Khadeeja Siddiqui, 23, a Pakistani law student who was stabbed 23 times by a classmate after she had rejected him romantically, poses for a photo during an interview with AFP in Lahore. ( AFP / ARIF ALI)
Updated 14 June 2018
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Pakistan student stabbed 23 times fights to see her attacker jailed

  • Khadija Siddiqui was attacked brazenly by Shah Hussain, a classmate whom she had rejected romantically.
  • Hussain, the son of a prominent Lahori lawyer, appealed a lower court decision and was acquitted n all charges by the Lahore High Court on June 4.

LAHORE, Pakistan: A Pakistani law student has emerged as a women’s rights crusader after she was stabbed 23 times in a busy street only to see her alleged attacker walk free, igniting outrage across the deeply patriarchal country.
Khadija Siddiqui, 23, survived the frenzied attack in broad daylight outside her sister’s school on a busy thoroughfare in the teeming eastern city of Lahore, Pakistan’s cultural capital, in May 2016.
Her sister was also injured as she tried to defend her, and the brazen attack only ended when her driver managed to pull the assailant off and rush Siddiqui to hospital, where she was admitted to intensive care with her neck slashed, her arms wounded, and a deep injury to her back.
Siddiqui named her attacker as Shah Hussain, a classmate whom she had rejected romantically. He was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison in July 2017.
But Hussain, the son of a prominent Lahori lawyer, appealed the decision — and in a shock judgment released on June 4, the Lahore High Court acquitted him on all charges.
The decision was greeted with an uproar in Pakistan, where hundreds of women are murdered and attacked by men each year, with many struggling to get justice in a sluggish court system that advocates say is often slanted against them.
“I was shocked,” Siddiqui, who spent three weeks in hospital after the attack and whose back still pains her, told AFP. “But unfortunately it was true.”
Siddiqui’s long struggle to put her attacker behind bars had already drawn attention from women’s rights campaigners, but when Hussain walked free it unleashed a wave of anger.
“I am heart broken, speechless, shattered after hearing what our judiciary system did to you @khadeeeej751 — But do not give up , keep fighting, and we shall overcome this together,” tweeted actress Urwa Hocane.
Hamza Ali Abbasi, another TV personality and activist, commented: “We must all unite & be Khadija’s voice & leave no stone unturned to get her justice against this barbarian! #WeAreWithKhadija.”
The hashtag was trending in Pakistan within hours of the acquittal.
The reaction intensified when the court’s judgment was released, with critics accusing it of “victim-blaming” after it poked holes in Siddiqui’s credibility.
The judgment questioned why she did not name Hussain as her attacker immediately, despite testimony saying she had fallen unconscious; and noted that at one point prior to the assault she had written a letter proposing marriage to him.
The outcry was so great that Pakistan’s Supreme Court has now taken up the case and will hold hearings later in the summer, it announced Wednesday.
Hashmi, Hussain’s father, has told AFP that his child is innocent. “My son is a brilliant student,” he said. “How can he be a criminal?“
Siddiqui’s case highlights how Pakistan’s judicial system fails women, says Hina Jilani, a leading lawyer and human rights activist.
The young law student is lucky in that she received high-profile support and it came to the Supreme Court’s attention, Jilani says — but that is rare.
“There is a prejudice against women,” she argues.
Pakistan is deeply conservative, and violence against women remained “pervasive and intractable” in 2017, according a yearly report by the country’s Human Rights Commission.
It documented thousands of reported violent incidents including rapes, assaults, sexual harassment, acid attacks, murders, and even four examples of “stove burning” — understood to be when a woman is taken into a kitchen, covered in kerosene and set alight; then the perpetrators claim she was burned by the stove.
The real figures, the commission said, are likely to be much higher.
Many cases of violence against women are not reported to authorities. In rural areas such cases often bypass the formal justice system and are dealt with by village “jirgas” or councils, often in a manner that is punitive for women.
But even for those cases which do enter the court system, the conviction rate is “below one percent,” says Rabeea Hadi, an activist with the Aurat Foundation, a women’s rights watchdog.
In cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse, it is “almost zero,” adds Anbreen Ajaib, the executive director of another women’s rights group, Bedari.
Siddiqui says women, including herself, are often pressured to drop their cases, and can face blackmail and harassment.
But she is determined to see hers through, and says the attention it has received has prompted many women to contact her to say they, too, are encouraged to stand up for themselves.
“I have been told by the prosecutors... that I’m probably the first woman who is fighting so hard to get justice,” she told AFP, sounding calm and confident.
“It has proved that if women fight, they can turn things around, so they should never give up... they should not tolerate injustice, violence and blackmail.”


Usman Buzdar becomes Punjab chief minister

Updated 19 August 2018
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Usman Buzdar becomes Punjab chief minister

  • PTI candidate bags 186 votes while PML-N secures 159
  • Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) was in power in Punjab for past 10 years

LAHORE: Ending the decade-long dominance of the Sharif family, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) nominee, Sardar Usman Buzdar, has been elected chief minister of Punjab, the biggest province in the country.

In the election on Sunday in the Punjab Assembly, Usman Buzdar secured 186 votes — the minimum required number to become the leader of the House consisting of 371 members.

His rival, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, son of former three-time Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif, could bag only 159 votes.

The seven members of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) abstained from the process.

The PML-Q legislators and Rah-e-Haq party members also voted for the PTI candidate.

The win of the PTI nominee, Sardar Usman Buzdar, has ended the 30-year supremacy of the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) in the political realm of the province.

The PML-N ruled the province from 1988 to 1990 when the elder Sharif, Mian Nawaz Sharif, served as the chief minister and gave a tough time to his political rival, the late Benazir Bhutto, who was then prime minister.

The PML-N then formed the government in the province in 1993 and Ghulam Hyder Wyne was the party nominee for the slot of chief minister.

The PML-N again gained power in 1997 and the younger Sharif, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, became chief minister of the province.

The ruled continued until the bloodless coup of Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

During Gen. Musharraf’s regime, Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi served as the chief minister from 2002 to 2007.

PML-N regained its glory in the 2008 elections and Mian Shahbaz Sharif became the chief minister. The rule continued for two consecutive terms (2008-20013 and 2013-18) — 10 years.

In the 2018 election, though, the PML-N emerged as the single largest party in the province by securing 129 seats but the number was not enough to form the government and on Sunday PTI candidate Buzdar ended their supremacy in Punjab politics.

The Punjab chief minister-elect, Usman Buzdar, comes from the downtrodden area of South Punjab and holds a master’s degree in political science and a law degree from the Bahauddin Zakaria University, Multan.

His father, Sardar Fateh Mohammed Buzdar, was a member of General Ziaul Haq’s cabinet known as “Majlis-e-Shoora” in 1983 and was elected MPA as an independent candidate in 1985.

He again won the provincial assembly seat in the 2002 and 2008 elections.

In 2013, son Usman Buzdar replaced father, Fateh Mohammed Buzdar, to contest a provincial assembly seat as a PML-N candidate and lost.

Buzdar, however, served as the Nazim of Tribal Area Tehsil of Dera Ghazi Khan district for two terms in Gen. Musharraf’s era.

His career was tarnished with corruption and he was charged as a reference containing allegations of making ghost appointments was made against him.

However, Buzdar’s brother says the National Accountability Bureau cleared him from all charges after investigations.

During the 1998 local government elections, in a bloody clash between two political rival groups, one of them led by Buzdar family, six people were killed.

Father and son (Fateh Mohammed Buzdar and Usman Buzdar) were not present on the scene but the opponents nominated them in the police report on the allegations of abetment.

They were exonerated in the police Investigations but their opponents did not accept it.

Following the tribal traditions, a jirga (tribal council) levied a fine of 6.5 million Pakistani rupees ($52,700) on the Buzdar clan and the money was paid to their rivals by the Buzdars.

The PTI ranks criticized the nomination of Buzdar but party chairman Imran Khan himself defended him, saying that the chosen chief minister for Punjab comes from one of the most underdeveloped areas of the province, where people had neither clean drinking water nor an uninterrupted supply of electricity.

Khan said in his video message that Buzdar was the only parliamentarian “whose home had no electricity,” and the PTI chief hoped he would work honestly and implement his party’s vision.

Buzdar was a member of the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam), a party led by Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain, before joining the PML-N in 2013.

He left the PML-N in May 2018 and became a part of Sooba Janobi Punjab Mohaz (South Punjab Province Front).

The whole group later merged in the PTI and Buzdar became a player of Imran Khan and won PP-286 (DG Khan) with more than 26,000 votes on a PTI ticket.

Soon after the announcement of his success, the PML-N legislators, wearing black armbands, chanted slogans against him — “Killer chief minister unacceptable and give respect to vote.”

The protest continued for 20 minutes.

The chief minister-elect, in his maiden address in the assembly, said his only merit is that he belongs to the most deprived area of the province and he vowed to carry forward the mission of Imran Khan and Quaid-e-Azam.

“My priority is to break the status quo, elimination of corruption, strengthening of institutions and local bodies and evolve the good governance,” Buzdar said.

Speaking on the occasion, Hamza Shahbaz, who lost the election, said that the mandate of the people had been stolen in the July 25 elections.

“We are here with heavy hearts and becoming part of the process only because we want the process of democracy to continue,” Hamza said.

He demanded a parliamentary commission to probe the irregularities of the electoral process and submit its recommendations in 30 days.