Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rinkle Kumari & Jurist Award, Chief Justice & Lal Masjid.

Perhaps the real question I should ask is, why do I even care? When I took time off from Harvard to be part of the lawyers’ movement I had seen a ray of hope. There were concerned citizens and lawyers who stood for what was right, no matter what the consequences. We fought for a principle and won, with the hope that things will slowly improve. Today the very judges we had faith in released the Lal Masjid cleric whose crimes everyone knows about. If the judiciary was going to release people whose crimes were recorded on TV, perhaps it does explain why the Taliban are growing popular. Having said that, rays of hope like Afzal Khan Lala, who has refused to move from Swat while he is alive, appear every now and then. However, he stands alone in facing the storm. Other than Ayaz Amir, not a single Pakistani leader has spoken out against the Taliban. Will the real leader who can get rid of these monsters stand up, please? Imran Khan? Qazi? Nawaz Sharif? This silence is criminal! What’s worse is that these leaders of ours have unanimously approved a state within a state run, which is not accountable to anyone, absolved the Taliban of all crimes and provided them a safe haven to kill more Pakistanis. The so-called Nizam-e-Adl Regulation was endorsed by the National Assembly without any proper debate. The sad story, friends, is that the Taliban are here, and unless we stand up against them in every possible way, Pakistan will be lost for good. And it will not be lost because of Zardari’s real or perceived corruption or anything else like that, but because of the silence of the lambs – we ALL will be responsible if Pakistan fails. The writer is a student at Harvard University and turned down an award from the US ambassador as a mark of protest against killings of Pakistanis by US drone attacks. The Taliban are here Samad Khurram Monday, April 20, 2009

Rinkle Kumari Award for CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry

In 2008, Pakistan Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry became the symbol of the lawyers’ movement which toppled an unelected president and brought democracy back to the country. Harvard Law School even presented Mr. Chaudhry with its Medal of Freedom. A new report by the International Commission of Jurists, a Geneva-based nongovernment organization of judges and lawyers, suggests his legacy might be more complicated. The report, released this month and based on a field trip to Pakistan last fall, paints a picture of a judiciary under Mr. Chaudhry that is exercising unusually wide-ranging powers. Pakistan’s judiciary has, during Mr. Chaudhry’s tenure as chief justice, stepped into areas normally reserved for a nation’s government, raising concerns over the balance of power, the report said. It noted that judges in Pakistan are increasingly initiating court proceedings on issues – as opposed to hearing cases brought by plaintiffs. The courts often launch these so-called “suo moto” cases in instances where the government has failed to take action. The report said in some cases this helps to protect the rule of law. It cited an example last year when paramilitary forces were caught on video shooting dead a teenager who was pleading for his life. The Supreme Court ordered senior paramilitary officers removed from their posts within three days and told a state prosecutor to launch an investigation. But in other cases Mr. Chaudhry appears to arbitrarily initiate “suo moto” proceedings based on articles in Pakistani newspapers, the report said. “This introduces a certain element of chance to the practice which is hardly compatible with the rule of law.” REFERENCE: Report Dings Pakistan’s Lawyers and Chief Justice April 20, 2012, 1:38 PM IST 
ICJ Mission to Pakistan Pakistan Mission Report 30 March 2012

Behind Imran Khan's Alleged Islamic Revolution - Part - 1

Hyderabad: May 28, 2012. (Abbas Kassar) Sindhis living in UK including International Sindhi Women Organization and World Sindhi Congress has announced boycott of award ceremony which has been arranged in London to give award to chief justice Pakistan Iftikhar Muahammad Chowdhry on the grounds that chief justice Pakistan had handed over Hindu girl Rinkel Kumari Kumari two months back to a PPP MNA Pir Mian Mithoo who had married her forcibly to one of his relatives after kidnapping her. The girl when presented before supreme court was crying to be handed to her parents and had loudly said that she was forcibly married to a Muslim boy but chief justice did not listen her cries and handed her to Muslim boy who had kidnapped her on behest of MNA of ruling PPP Mian Mithoo and then married. It may be mentioned here that kidnapping Hindu girls and then marrying them to Muslims after forcible conversion is common in Sindh but neither government nor judiciary can stop such atrocities with minorities in Pakistan. REFERENCE: Boycott of CJ of Pakistan award ceremony in London on forced conversion of Hindu girls case

Behind Imran Khan's Alleged Islamic Revolution - Part - 2

Islamabad: April 18, 2012. (PCP) Eyes of Human right activists around globe were on Supreme Court of Pakistan hearing of a case today of forced conversion of Hindu girl Rinkle Kumari and others to Islam but unfortunately Division Bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan not bothered to listen victimized girls and ordered police to present them before Registrar Supreme Court of Pakistan to record their statement and to go with parents or with Muslim husbands. A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvezhad ordered to send Hindu women Rinkle Kumari, Dr. Lata and Asha Kumari to Shelter in last hearing on March 26, 2012, when they were crying “We want to go with our parents and begged that their life is in danger” It surprised Human Right activists that why Judges ordered to send Hindu women in Shelter when in camera session and later in open court hearing of March 26, 2012, they begged Division Bench Judges to allow them to go with their parents? It was already feared that in Shelters the Hindu girls will be threatened and blocked to unite with their families. In today’s hearing by SC Bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary not permitted to speak victim Hindu girls but gave them in police custody to record their statement with registrar. The Three Hindu women in police custody who were all Muslim women and men police officer walked to the Registrar office of Supreme Court of Pakistan and under police presence expressed their consent to go with their Muslim husbands.

The forced converted Hindu girls were in Shelter for three weeks where all staff was Muslim, the officer who escorted them from Shelter to Supreme Court building were all Muslims and to office of Registrar escorting officers were also all Muslims. How a Muslim cannot put pressure on a convert to Islam who has openly demanded to go with her Hindu Parents when a Muslim has religious faith that to convert to infidels is their ticket to heaven? The Supreme Court of Pakistan Judges as a Muslim also were aware of such belief of Muslims as citizens of Islamic Republic of Pakistan but not bothered to hold open court hearing or camera session on hearing of April 18, 2012, and ordered a Muslim Registrar of Supreme Court of Pakistan to record their statements.

Apart from surprising hearing of forced conversion case of three Hindu girls in Supreme Court of Pakistan. A Christian girl’s case on forced conversion was also in progress in city of Multan today. District and Sessions Judge Sardar Naeem Ahmed Khan of Multan city in Punjab province also directed police to conduct an inquiry in light of Mehwish Bibi's statement that she had converted to Islam to marry Hammad Ahmed and allowed her to live with her husband and ordered authorities to provide special security to the couple. It will be noted that Earlier, Mehwish's father Yousuf Masih filed an application in the Supreme Court that said his daughter was abducted by Ahmed. He requested the court to issue an order for her recovery but Supreme Court of Pakistan referred the case to the district and sessions court in Multan. According to Pakistan Christian Post sources, more than 800 Christian women and 450 Hindu women are kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam every year in Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Islamic mafia after kidnapping converts them to Islam and then sells to Muslims men for marriage who keep them as mistresses for few months and then sell them from 2000 $ to 3000 $ to brothels for prostitution. Such forced converted Christian and Hindu girls are tortured and threatened to keep silent and are told every day that if they will speak up shall be killed as an apostate as Islamic law of apostasy decree to death. There was last hope that higher courts in Pakistan will issue some judgment on forced conversion to ensure justice for Christians, Hindus and other religious minorities in Pakistan but cases of Mehwish Bibi, Rinkle Kumari, Lata and Asha Kumari have proved that there is no justice for them in Pakistan. It have raised very important question in minds of every Pakistani that are our Judges also Islamic clerics? That might betrue because Judges are Muslim and Moulvi is also Muslim. REFERENCE: Apex Court of Pakistan Judges or Islamic Clerics in enforcedly converted Hindu and Christian girls’ case

CJ Iftikhar Chaudhry & Judiciary is silent on Raymond Davis (Aaj Ki Khaber 17 March 2011)

“Supreme Court has once again killed the justice as it had done earlier under Molvi Mushtaq when it sentenced Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to death” said a strongly worded statement from Raj Kumar, uncle of Rinkle Kumari, the Hindu girl allegedly forcibly converted to Islam and married to a Muslim boy Naveed Shah. The anger and disillusionment on Supreme Court’s Order of April 18th was not limited to Rinkle’s family only. It seems to have spread over the entire Sindh. Those familiar with the details of the case saw it as a mockery of ‘justice’, while the general consumer of mainstream media was satisfied on dispensation of ‘justice’ by letting an ‘adult’ girl exercise her right to ‘free’ choice. The case was, no doubt, a complex one, where even the liberal sections of society were perplexed to form an opinion on the case. For a layperson Rinkle Kumari had claimed in a presser to have embraced Islam on her own free will before marrying Naveed Shah. Later, she was reported (widely so) to have stated in the Supreme Court that she wanted to go with her ‘husband’ instead of her parents. Anyone would support such a display of ‘free exercise’ of the right to choose by a young girl from minority community. Anyone still raising voice for Rinkle’s recovery would be seen as anti-women rights conservative. Needless to say that the right wing religious people would term the protesters the enemies of religion who are posing hurdles in the spread of Islam. The hyper nationalists would call them anti-state traitors who want to blemish Pakistan’s image by highlighting a persecution that in their view, never existed.

The discrepancies started appearing as soon as the case began with Rinkle’s alleged abduction. We might not know at this point whether Rinkle and Naveed Shah had relationship, but that Rinkle knew Naveed as neighbor is a fact. It is also a fact that she had been complaining about Naveed’s excesses towards her for couple of months before the so-called abduction. The accounts about the day she disappeared, February 24, are many. Even the initial First Information Report (FIR) lodged by her family tells a different story than their statements later. Same is the case with the accounts by Mian Mitho, the central character of the tragedy. Whenever Mitho opens his mouth about the case, he comes up with a different story about what happened on February 24.

For the sake of keeping it simple and preventing it from unnecessarily drifting, lets assume Rinkle and Naveed Shah had a relationship and eloped out of consent on February 24. Had that been the case, the girl would never had cried endlessly in the civil court Ghotki on February 25 and had said that she wanted to go with her parents. Media should probably have asked the civil court why was she sent to Sakhar police station on February 25 after her clear statement to the opposite. That was the point that emboldened those having a sinister hand in the case. After the court gave up its authority over the process of justice by allowing Mian Mitho take Rinkle from Ghotki to Sakhar police station while she was given in police custody, the court gave a silent message to all of us as to who was in-charge. The same was repeated on February 27 in the court of judicial magistrate Mirpur Mathelo, when he ordered to give Rinkle’s custody to Naveed Shah.

The timeline of injustice in this particular case presents many discrepancies and clearly points towards collusion between the entire state structure, landed influential politicians, religious elite and ‘innocent’ media who swindled the process of justice. Despite Rinkle’s repeated statements in different courts that she wanted to go to her parents, courts could not ‘respect’ her choice. Not many would blame the poor magistrates considering the conditions in which they try to give a semblance of justice. In the absence of any security mechanism ensured for them, it was understandable when judicial magistrate in Mirpur Mathelo told counsels of Rinkle’s family that had he given a decision otherwise, he and thousands of Hindus in Ghotki district would have been killed by religious extremists. The instance has been recorded in the note submitted to honorable Supreme Court by the counsel Rasheed A. Rizvi.

The farce of ‘free will’ should have been gotten exposed on March 11 when Rinkle was made to address a press conference while, theoretically, in the custody of police. The way she was surrounded by Mitho’s armed men who dragged them in and out of the venue and then how the media portrayed it as her free will statement, was a shameless display of our collective failure on basic levels of honesty, intellect, sense of judgment and reasoning.

On March 12, when Rinkle was produced in the High Court Karachi, she was once again dragged in the courtroom by Mitho’s men and women with policewomen silently watching on the side. Veengas, the journalist from Karachi who has been closely following the case, tells that Mitho’s men appeared to be in-charge of the courtroom. “They were everywhere and were not letting anyone come towards Rinkle” says Veengas. The court had to rise twice in order to make order in the courtroom, as has been recorded in the High Court Order of March 12.

Leaving aside what happened next, come fast forward to March 26 and we see Rinkle once again pleading helplessly to the Chief Justice that she wanted to go with her mother. To quote Chief Justice, as was reported by various TV channels and newspapers and was never denied by the honourable court, “Rinkle wants to go with her parents while Dr. Lata is double minded”. Despite this clear statement from Rinkle, she was sent to Panah, the shelter home run by Justice Majida Razvi, former judge Sindh High Court and Chair NCSW. The order was issued to ‘give the girls pressure-free environment for recording free-will statement’ under section 164 of Criminal Procedures Code.

According to the SC’s orders, all the parties to the conflict were barred from meeting her. But to one’s utter shock, reports have emerged that she was not spared even in Panah. Although Justice Majida Razvi categorically denies any such event, but Rinkle’s family insists Panah’s lower level staff was intimidated and threatened by Mitho’s men to let Naveed Shah meet her. Justice Razvi, in her written response to this scribe, has strongly denied this and has offered to produced CCTV camera footage if the accusers tell the date and time of the suspected meeting. The court could probably get the evidence from Panah and burry the disturbing rumors forever.

After, this ‘pressure free period’, Rinkle was produced in Supreme Court on April 18 where she was not allowed to talk before the Order was dictated, despite her murmuring to let her say something. On refusal to be heard by the court, she gave the Chief Justice a piece of paper, which was not read. She was then directed to the Registrar’s office for stating her willingness to accompany either of the parties.

It is unknown how the court determined whether she was ‘sui juris’ (capacity to manage one’s own affairs) when her birth certificate shows her to be less than 18 years of age (16 years 5 months to be precise). Moreover, no procedure was adopted to determine if she had embraced Islam without coercion. There was no cross-questioning allowed to either of the counsels who were not allowed to speak. According to another unconfirmed report, Mitho’s son, Naveed Shah and handful of policemen were already in Registrar’s office where Rinkle recorded her statement. Moments later, media was reporting that Rinkle has opted to go with her ‘husband’.

Interesting to note here that Rinkle’s statement does not say whether she has embraced Islam. Question arises, if she, as Hindu, has married Naveed Shah, would the court and the religious parties ever allow a Muslim girl to marry a Hindu boy? If 16 years old Rinkle’s ‘right to choice’ is so important for all of us, would we allowe adult Muslim girls to marry out of their choice without their parents? We must.

Yousaf Leghari, former Advocate General Sindh is of the opinion that the way case was handled and the Order was written was violation of the procedure laid down for statements under section 164. According to CrPC, the statement had to be recorded under oath in the presence of judge(s). Nothing was done to determine the proverbial ‘free will’ of the abductee, he said. Mr. Amarnath Mottumal, Vice-Chairperson Sindh Chapter of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan emphasized that the court had to make sure if the conversion was forced. To which end, nothing was done.

The way the petition of Pakistan Hindu Council was disposed off by the apex court is also noteworthy. It diluted the issue of necessary legislation to prevent forced conversions when the Court opined that no legislation was required thereon in the presence of Article 20 of the Constitution. Asad Jamal, Advocate Lahore High Court and noted human rights activist says that the Court Order does not and cannot bar the parliament from legislating on an issue it deems necessary to legislate upon. However, legislation on this issue must be done with care and due diligence, as it might be used against the minorities. Precedence of similar legislation could be taken from Indian statutes, Jamal said.

In this judicial hustle bustle, everyone forgot Presidential order of instituting an inquiry on the issue. Probably it is high time that the Honorable court orders the relevant departments to carry on with the inquiry into the role of Ghotki police, of lower judiciary and of Mian Mitho while taking into account his criminal record. The concept of ‘free will’ should not be abused by making it so illusionary, yet decisive. As these lines are being written, the rumor has it that Mian Mitho has made arrangements for Rinkle to leave the country on May 28. We must amend last point in the timeline of Rinkle’s case and be able to write, Rinkle finally got justice! REFERENCE: Rinkle Kumari: A Test Case for Jinnah’s Pakistan (Updated) This was originally written for The Friday Times appeared on May 25, 2012. Click here to read it from TFT. Posted here with some modifications

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