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Daily Briefs


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28 May 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No.28

Violence against Women in Pakistan continues. This time a honour killing in Waziristan



Violence against Women in Pakistan continues. This time an honour killing in Waziristan; Locust threat; COVID, Pakistan's complaints on India

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus

Violence against Women in Pakistan continues. This time an honour killing in Waziristan

By Abigail Miriam Fernandez

In the news
Recently, in North Waziristan two suspects were arrested who were involved in the killing of two teenage girls in the name of honour. Both are relatives of the victims, one being the father and the other is a cousin of the girls. The two of the three girls were killed on 14 May, after an 'objectionable' short video of them with a young man in a secluded area outdoors surfaced on social media. 
 
Issues at large
First, the belief of women as property and thereby a source of honour is deeply rooted in society. For many within Pakistan, women and girls are seen to embody family honour, their identity, existence and social respects are derived or measured by their obedience to family demands. This is even more prominent in tribal societies, where anything a woman does can compromise the honour of the family. Thus, honour crimes are committed as a way of policing or disciplining women and girls who are seen to be violating the social code. 

Hundreds of women and girls are killed in the name of "honour" in Pakistan every year. Clapping, dancing, enjoying at weddings, living life independently or even desiring to be educated are crimes that are believed to put in stake the honour of the family and society, thereby sanctifying their killings.
 
Second, tribal practices and customs possess a higher status than the federal law. Given the geographical context of this incident, women in tribal areas like in North Waziristan, have little freedom, and local customs often hold greater influence than federal laws. In many regions, honour killing is not considered as a crime by the jirga (tribal council) but a legitimate action of the man whose family was dishonoured. 
 
Third, successive governments have failed to govern mainstream legislations. The lack of governance in tribal areas has left conservative and archaic practices to continue. The federal government has not been able to implement legislation in these regions. Thus, the government of Pakistan has failed to exercise due diligence in protecting the rights of women. Further, the rise of militancy in tribal areas has not been efficiently tackled by the government, leaving women a target of violence.
 
Fourth, the limited reach of the judiciary in tribal areas has made fighting a legal battle inaccessible for these women. Seeking justice is extremely problematic in Pakistan where many legal loopholes currently exist which allow perpetrators of honour killings to escape any punishment. Under Pakistani law in cases of murder, the victim's family is allowed to pardon the perpetrators. The culprits are then free from prosecution and sentencing.
 
In perspective 
First, crimes against women seem to be a private matter in Pakistan where the law or state authorities are unable to 'break the glass ceiling'.  Despite the government's legislative initiative and achievement, the law has not prevented the murder of women for honour, and the number of victims who have been prone to violence has only increased.
 
Second, 'honour killings' are an extreme expression of patriarchal violence, and this practice needs to be strongly condemned and timely justice must be delivered. However, killing in the name of honour is not driven by customs and traditions only but also by the local gender system, a feudal structure that upholds the conceptions and sanctity of manhood, and the complicit role of state institutions and law enforcement agencies. More leaders will have to speak about the issue and initiatives to change attitudes.

Third, from a larger perspective honour killing are not an exclusively Pakistan's problem. Cases emerge routinely from countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Syria, and even Muslim diasporas in Western countries. Nor are honour killings an exclusively Muslim problem. Thus, a major key in tackling this issue is starting from the bottom; it is only when communities see these crimes as unethical can transformation and change occur.

The above note was published as a part of the Conflict Weekly, published by the NIASClick for the entire editionClick here to subscribe for Conflict Weekly.

 

In Brief
THE LOCUST THREAT

Bilawal Bhutto blames government for failure to tackle locust attacks
The PPP Chairman accused the government of being ill-prepared to handle the locust attacks. He said no measures were taken by the party despite previous cautions regarding the locust attacks and warned of a serious economic impact.
(“PM, his cabinet responsible for locust attacks: Bilawal,” The News, 28 May 2020)

China and Pakistan cooperate to fight against desert locusts
The first agricultural diplomat in Pakistan has reported that, China and Pakistan have come together to bring innovative technology tools to deal with the locust attacks in the region. He also mentioned that bilateral agricultural cooperation had furthered due to the locust attacks.
(“China and Pakistan join efforts against locusts, pandemic,” The News, 28 May 2020)

Usman Buzdar directs authorities to take necessary measures against locust attacks.
The Chief Minister has ordered all related departments in Punjab to prepare to protect crops. He has asked to focus on aerial crop spraying. “Effective campaign should be carried out in a scientific manner to protect the crops”, Buzdar added. (“Usman Buzdar orders steps to protect crops from locust attack,” The News, 28 May 2020)

PK-8303 INVESTIGATION
PIA crash: Cockpit voice recorder (CVR) still missing
A PIA representative reported that the plane crash was simultaneously investigated by both French experts and Air­craft Accident and Investi­gation Board (AAIB). But the flight data recorder and CVR, which are vital parts of the black box have been confirmed to be missing. He added that the search to locate them will continue.
(Azfar-ul-Ashfaque, “French team, local investigators scour air crash site for clues,” Dawn, 28 May 2020)

ON INDIA
Pakistan army downed a quadcopter in the region

The Chief of Inter-Services Public Relations tweeted that Pakistan troops had shot down an Indian quadcopter found to be flying 650 metres into Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Military sources say the recurrence of such drones are part of India’s intelligence gathering activities and that Pak army had similarly shot down all such drones in the months of March and May. (Tariq Naqash, “India’s spy drone shot down along LoC,” Dawn, 28 May 2020,)

Pakistan disapproves the construction of the temple in Ayodhya 
Pakistan condemned the construction of the temple at the Babri Masjid site in India claiming that the action was an advancement of the ‘Hindutva agenda’ by the BJP led government in India. The official said the judgement of the Supreme Court in India on Ayodhya's case was a non-secular verdict and that it threatened the religious freedom of minorities. Ministry of Foreign Affairs said India was scheming to demonizing the minority Islamic community during Covid-19 and urged the international community to account for the continuous violence on the minorities as Human Rights violations. ("Pakistan condemns the construction of the temple at Babri Masjid site,” The Express Tribune, 28 May 2020)

PROVINCES
Sindh suffers from coronavirus as rising cases break records
The coronavirus cases in Sindh soared to 24,206 as 699 new positive cases were detected in the province in the last 24 hours. Six more lives were lost yesterday and the death toll reached 380 in Sindh. The provincial government reported that around 31 percent of the 2,177 tests turned positive; this is worrisome as it is the highest ratio so far in Pakistan. Sindh Chief Minister once again urged people to stay safe at home and avoid crowding in public places. (“Raising tally: Sindh’s Covid-19 positive ratio climbs to 31%,” The Express Tribune, 28 May 2020)

Balochistan's ‘Killer road’ claims more lives than terrorism
The number of accidents in Balochistan highway surpasses the region’s fatality due to terrorism. The 813 kilometers long Quetta-Karachi highway is locally called as “killer road” as it has recorded more than 800 accidents in 2019 alone. This road is also a strategically significant single-lane highway connecting Karachi to Chaman (bordering Afghanistan) which has attracted Chinese investment as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Project to facilitate Chinese cargo movements to the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. (“Killer highway in Balochistan more deadly than terrorism,” The Express Tribune, 28 May 2020)

Senior Journalist killed in Jacobabad, PFUJ expresses condemn
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) deplored the murder of the senior reporter of the Sindhi newspaper Daily Koshish in Jacobabad. The journalist was shot dead in the name of honour. PFUJ demanded the Sindh government to arrest the culprits and investigate the case as an independent justice manner. Also, the World Press Freedom Index pointed out Pakistan’s 145th rank regarding Press freedom in the year 2020. (“PFUJ condemns journalist’s murder, seeks killers’ arrest,” Dawn, 28 May 2020)

COVID-19
The government is taking a risky strategy, says the opinion in Dawn
The opinion article in Dawn says a warning was sent by the Special Assistant to Prime Minister to reimpose “strict lockdown” if coronavirus cases persisted to increase in Pakistan. It makes an observation on the muddled approach of the federal government in taking steps to control the pandemic. It also identifies the declining number of sample testing during Eid holidays and testing of only symptomatic people who embark from various countries as adding to the risk of the coronavirus crisis in Pakistan. (“Relentless rise in Covid-19 cases,” Dawn, 28 May 2020) 

 

"The international community must hold India to account for the continuous violations of human rights of minorities and urge the Indian government to take immediate steps to ensure that the rights of all minorities are fully protected and promoted as per India’s obligations under international instruments to which it is a party"

- Statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
quoted in the Express Tribune

 

In Focus and In Brief sections are prepared by Lakshmi V Menon, Abigail Miriam Fernandez, A Padmashree and P Harini Sha.

 

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