Sunday, September 21, 2008
By Saadia Khalid
ISLAMABAD: A high-powered commission for presenting a report to parliament on Violence Against Women (VAW), especially on killings in the name of honour, tradition and custom, was demanded in a protest here on Saturday.
The protest was staged by civil society members at the Parade Avenue to condemn the government for not taking any immediate steps on the recent incident in which five women were buried alive in Naseerabad.
The participants were holding placards inscribed with messages like ‘Kick out Israrullah Zehri’ and ‘Women parliamentarians speak or resign’. They raised slogans against the government for not taking the issue seriously, as those responsible have not been arrested yet while the investigation process of the unfortunate incident was also not satisfactory.
The protesters said that the government representatives should stay vigilant in order to identify planning of such crimes as honour killings, so that preventive measures could be taken in time. They said that Senator Zehri and those public representatives who had defended honour killings should be disqualified immediately.
Director of the Aurat Foundation Naeem Mirza said he was greatly disappointed by the stance of women parliamentarians on such a terrible issue. “The role of PPP women parliamentarians is condemnable, as they have not taken any stance in parliament in this regard,” he said and stressed that a high-level commission should be constituted to investigate the issue in which members of civil society should also be given proper representation.
Civil activist Shabana Arif said that burial of women who were alive was the most inhuman, heinous, and barbaric crime that should be condemned at all levels. “The issue should be discussed in both houses in order to curb such practices in future,” she said.
Farzana Bari said it was a routine matter that committees were constituted to prolong such issues until the voices opposing them died down. “We are not satisfied with the proceedings of the committee till now,” she said and added that the penal code needed to be further amended, so that murder could be brought back as a crime against the State and should, under no circumstances, be compounded.
Meanwhile, People’s Rights Movement (PRM) held a protest on the occasion of the joint session of parliament, demanding a firm stand against the American imperialism, both in the form of direct military incursions on the Pakistani territory and the economic imperialism of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its sister financial institutions.
Speaking on the occasion, Aasim Sajjad said that over the past two weeks, it had been proven that the military establishment was hand-in-glove with the US. “There is a widespread consensus in the society that American hegemony should not be tolerated but unfortunately, the powers-that-be are willing to take a stand on the basic principle of national sovereignty and so Pakistan’s client state status stands confirmed,” he said.