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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

12 September 2020, Saturday I Vol 1, No.131

Motorway Rape: Victim blaming, misogyny, corruption, administrative failures and the public outrage



PR Daily Brief | PR Team

The incident and Responses 

On 2 September, a woman driving on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway along with her two children was gang rape after her car ran out of fuel and stalled. As she made frantic phone calls to get help, two men approached the family and forcibly took them to a nearby field at gunpoint. The men had raped the woman in the presence of her children and then went on to steal her money and jewellery before escaping. Further, reports also showed that the victim had called on the helpline of Motorway Police, but was denied assistance because the area in question was not covered by the Pakistan National Highway and Motorway Police. (Asif Chaudhry “Lahore motorway gang-rape causes outrage,” Dawn, 11 September 2020)

The news of the heinous crime went viral creating a public outrage. In response to the incident, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability admitted to the government’s ‘administrative failure’ and stated that the culprits would be apprehended at all costs. However, on the other hand, Lahore CCPO Umar Sheikh unsympathetically took to blaming the victim while addressing the media, stating that the woman could have avoided being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Adding that she should have taken the more populated GT Road to Gujranwala instead of going via the motorway and that she ought to have checked how much fuel her car had before setting off. Further, he stated that women should be more responsible as assault is the ultimate fate of a woman travelling alone in our society. In response to the CCPO’s unhelpful response, civil society and human rights activists condemned the statements calling for his removal. (Xari Jalil, “‘Victim blaming’: Civil society, rights activists demand removal of Lahore CCPO,” Dawn, 11 September 2020)

Unacceptable attitude 

An editorial in the Dawn critical of the CCPO’s remarks states that his attitude is unacceptable. Adding condemnation towards the incident from individual members of the government is not enough rather there has to be a condemnation of the unprofessional conduct of the top official overseeing security in Lahore. Further, the editorial states that authorities should take note of the fact that the Pakistan National Highway and Motorway Police are unaware of who is responsible for policing the route where the assault took place, an issue which caused the woman’s call for assistance on the official helpline to be denied. The editorial called for the removal of the CCPO which will be the one way by which the government can show to the women of this country that there is hope for their security. (“Blaming the victim,” Dawn, 12 September 2020)

An editorial in the News International states questioning the PTI government promised of a ‘new Pakistan’ and better Pakistan with a changed social order states that the CCPO ideally should be working alongside all other police officers to make a new society emerge, however, no efforts to achieve this has been made, leaving especially women and children in danger. Further, the editorial asks, Is the government so clueless about the damaging remarks made by the CCPO? Most women give up and all hope for justice, all the while being shamed, patronized, bullied into silence? (“Shameful conduct,” The News International, 12 September 2020)

Questioning the Official

Given that there have already been loud and clear demands for the removal of the CCPO who had already been in controversy even before the gang rape took place with both governments aware of his past performance and his reputation. Why did the federal government/Punjab government go ahead with the appointment knowing his dubious credentials as CCPO of Lahore?

An opinion by Fahd Husain in the Dawn critical of the federal and Punjab governments states that they are willing to overlook the tainted credentials, insubordination and his misogynistic mindset for what reasons? What was so intriguingly endearing that PTI was ready and willing to sack a very well reputed IG Punjab to retain the CCPO? It is something that cannot be acknowledged; something of so much value, and significance and importance that all the other devastating fallouts of this decision pale in comparison. Calling it the ‘Land of Disturbia’ where the victims and innocent are expected to recoil in guilt while the perpetuators and let to walk free, the situation just depicts the ‘sordid’ vividness across Punjab. (Fahd Husain, “Land of Disturbia,” Dawn, 12 September 2020)

The role of an official and that of a woman in the same position

An opinion in the News International by Babar Sattar highlights the atomistic mindset which has emerged as a not just as a result of the patriarchal system but also due to the distinction between the roles and responsibilities of citizens and the state in their mutual contract backed by the constitution does not exist. This is where empathy based on sharing of concerns rooted in common identity comes in. the author explains this by highlighting the difference in responses from Shireen Mazari and Asad Umar’s response to the CCPO’s words. As a woman, Mazari understands the sense of fear or panic women feel in patriarchy which on the other hand Umar cannot. Further, asking had the CCPO of Lahore been a woman, would she have taken to victim blaming? Had the police investigators in rape cases be women, would starting point investigations be whether or not victims asked for it? The opinion most importantly highlights that representation of women in positions of authority is important because one cannot claim to be insightful and objective concerning things one cannot relate to. (Babar Sattar, “When outrage is not enough,” The News International, 12 September 2020)

Policing in the country has been politicised say CJP

On 11 September, the Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmad voiced worries over the law and order situation in the country and expressed concern this incident. The CJP called out the lack of security by the police, adding that the incident is shameful. Further, he added that the policing in the country had been politicised and as a result, life and property of people are not safe, in this regard he asked the government with vigilance, adding that maintaining law and order is a prime function of the government and in this regard, effective policing is indispensable. (“CJP asks govt to act sensibly: Punjab Police postings portray political interference,” The News International, 12 September 2020)

Barrister calls for urgent legislative intervention to safeguard homemakers

A barrister Asfand Yar Warraich’s article in the Pakistani daily Dawnspeaks of how Pakistan’s law and societal norms create “millions of women with nothing in their name”, who’s “right to the roof over their head becomes tied to three words alone: talaq, talaq and talaq”. The article asks why the woman’s endless labours are offhandedly dismissed by the law of the land while her husband is granted one of “the highest legal sanctions of the land — the inalienable right to property?” Asfand calls for equality and equity and an urgent legislative intervention to protect the homemakers of Pakistan opining that their labours don’t deserve mere “empty encouragement and medals of admiration, but something of material value, which allows them to stand on their feet, without crutch or support.”

Law of the Land

The barrister points out that according to Pakistan’s national laws, a husband is no longer mandated the pay maintenance to his wife once the marriage has been dissolved and the termination of marriage is as simple as the utterance of talaq, talaq, talaq verbatum. While the right of each to keep their individual property is absolute equality on paper, in reality that is not the case. The practice is shockingly unjust where the bread winner takes all, while the homemaker who meticulously slaved for its facilitation is left with close to nothing.

Sociocultural Milieu

Asfand identifies two fundamental sociocultural reasons that keep women from attaining property: first, the expectation that women must ‘sacrifice’ their personal inheritance for their male kin; and second, the ‘invisibility’ of the work undertaken by women round-the-clock inside the house. The barrister says the pride the country takes in its women for becoming and being homemakers is “a worthless sham” if they “can be kicked out of the very homes that they make”. (“With nothing in her name,” Dawn, 12 September 2020)

In-Brief

INTERNAL

Discussion on FATF bills on 14th

An ‘informal’ committee comprising government and opposition lawmakers is likely to meet on 14 September to end a deadlock on four bills related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Earlier, a 24-member committee led by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi examined the bills before tabling them in both the houses of parliament for approval. The deadlock remains mainly over the issue of civil liberty that hindered the progress of the committee. Bills related to amendments to the Evacuee Properties and Cooperative Societies Act had almost been settled. However, there were differences on Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) and Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Pakistan has to submit a compliance report to FATF on 30 September. (Malik Asad, “Government-opposition body to discuss FATF bills on 14th,” Dawn, 12 September 2020) 

Journalist Bilal Farooqui arrested for posts ‘defaming’ the army

Bilal Farooqui, a journalist working for the Express Tribune was detained from his residence in Defence Housing Society by the police on 11 September. The developments were confirmed by the chief of Karachi police, Additional IG Ghulam Nabi Memon. A case has been registered against the journalist under sections 500 and 505 of the Pakistan Penal Code and sections 11 and 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016. The complainant, Javed Khan a resident of Majeed Colony, Landhi alleged that the posts on Facebook and Twitter by Mr Farooqui were highly objectionable as it defamed the Pakistan Army. The Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists have condemned the incident and demanded his immediate release. (“Journalist Bilal arrested for ‘objectionable’ posts,” Dawn, 12 September 2020)

Disagreement between Pakistan and IMF over financing of budget deficit

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Pakistani authorities are having divergent views over financing of the budget deficit for the current fiscal year as the Fund is asking for cutting down the budget deficit as well as the gross financing requirements. Apart from this, issues like hiking electricity tariff by 30 pc, erasing circular debt and enabling a plan to stop the accumulation of Rs 44.8 billion on a monthly basis. Structural and legal reforms such as autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), bringing amendments to Nepra and others are also major pending issues. Independent economists have argued that the fiscal situation was worsening that might result into surfacing of demand from the IMF for presenting a mini-budget. Instead, they have proposed that Imran Khan’s government should have convinced the IMF for allowing COVID-19 related spending of 2 to 2.5 pc of GDP without making it an addition to the budget deficit. (Mehtab Haidar, “Pakistan, IMF at loggerheads over financing of budget deficit,” The News International, 12 September 2020)

ECONOMY

Foreign investors are showing deep interest in Pakistan 

Sahibzada Jahangir, Prime Minister’s Spokesperson on Trade and Investment in the UK & Europe in an interview with the News stated, “By the grace of Allah, we have received a lot of interest in Pakistan and we hope that through his visionary leadership and global appeal, Prime Minister Imran Khan will change the future of Pakistan and at last the benefits and rewards will be felt by the poor masses in Pakistan.” Further, he added, “As per Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision for a prosperous Pakistan, I am presenting Pakistan as a suitable investment destination to the foreign investors. All the world financial institutions are displaying positive and favourable indications, declaring Pakistan safe and profitable destination for investment.” Presently, the country is drawing the attention of various foreign investors who are showing deep interest in Pakistan due to its multidimensional potential with investors such as Australian businessman Andrew Forrest expressing desire to invest tens of billions of dollars in Pakistan in Green Technology Projects. (Hamza Azhar Salam, “Foreign investors exploring opportunities in Pakistan,” The News International, 12 September 2020)

An opinion say that Pakistan continues to persist with a failed economic model

An opinion in the Express Tribune critical of the economic situation in the country says that one common feature of governments since 1977 was the IMF dictated economic model they followed. The opinion then highlights a column by Atif Mian, one of the world’s leading economists of Pakistani origin, who suggests three strategies which the government should adopt if it wanted to address the issue. First, strengthen Pakistan’s financial and regulatory authorities through the appointment of competent and reputable leadership and design governance rules to minimise political interference. Second, shift Pakistan’s growth policy from the failed import-led strategies towards policies that focus on raising domestic productivity growth and exports. Third, modernise the financial system to reduce the incidence of tax evasion and money laundering by moving the financial system towards a ‘cashless’ digital payment system that makes it easier to track and audit large financial transactions. (M Ziauddin, “Persisting with a failed economic model,” The Express Tribune, 12 September 2020)

EXTERNAL

Pakistan in the Middle East

In his article, Usama Shirazi talks of the enormous importance the Middle East region holds in Pakistan’s foreign policy due to historical linkages and geographical proximity. He writes, “Besides a political, economic, and strategic convergence, this region offers cultural, religious, and historical theatres to determine Pakistan’s foreign policy priorities.” The article says that the Riyadh-Tehran stride for regional supremacy has left Pakistan “little space to navigate” as the country has strong bilateral bonds with both the rivals; both relations of paramount value and of similar parity. It opines that the new alliance led by Turkey “makes the region volatile and compels Pakistan to navigate smartly is the new alliance”. However, “the mounting conflicting dynamics are narrowing diplomatic space for Pakistan,” he adds. (“Navigating the Middle East,” The Nation,12 September 2020)

Pakistan seeks relief over fine imposed in Reko Diq lease case

Pakistan is seeking a reversal of a $5.8 billion fine imposed by an international tribune for denying a lease to an Australian company to mine Reqo Diq in Balochistan. Earlier, the mining lease was offered to Tethyan Copper Corp (TCC). Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government had said that Req Dia is a strategic national asset, although it is anticipated that the mining project has more costs than benefits for Pakistan. According to the details available on Tethyan’s website, the mining project at Reko Diq was to build and operate a world class copper-gold open-pit mine at the cost of $3.3 billion. The TCC was given a lease by the Balochistan government as per its 1998 agreement. The project was stalled in 2011 by the provincial government on grounds of non-transparency. This case is testing PM Imran Khan’s ability to utilise the back channel diplomacy to settle disputes and lure more foreign investors. (“Pakistan seeks relief over $5.8 billion fine in Reko Diq lease case,” Dawn, 12 September 2020)

Hundreds of illegal Pakistani migrants deported by Iran

Iran has deported as many as 1,000 Pakistani citizens who were arrested and deported by authorities through the Taftan border in Chagai district. The Iranian authorities have handed over 200 migrants each day between 6 and 10 September this week. Majority of the illegal migrants, mainly from Punjab, tried to reach European countries via Iran without having valid documents. The officials added that the migrants take an advantage of the rugged terrain along the border with the help of organised human traffickers. The human trafficking has intensified as smugglers are using the Quetta-Taftan RCD highway to transport the illegal migrants. (Ali Raza Rind, “Iran deports hundreds of illegal Pakistani migrants,” Dawn, 12 September 2020)

The United Nations resolutions can never become outdated by events or changed circumstances says an opinion

An opinion in the Nation critical of India’s Ambassador to the United Nations, T S Tirumurti remarks to take off the “outdated agenda item” of the “India-Pakistan question’’, from the Council states that the mere passage of time or moving away from realities cannot alter the fact that these resolutions remain unimplemented. Further, stating that if the passage of time were allowed to international agreements to become outdated, then the United Nations Charter should suffer the same fate as the resolutions on Kashmir. Further, the editorial concluded by stating that it hopes that the world powers and the United Nations lend support towards initiating a peace process which will lead to a speedy, just and honourable settlement of the dispute and restore to the people of Kashmir their inalienable right to self-determination. (Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, “Kashmir and the United Nations Security Council,” The Nation, 12 September 2020)

Pakistan welcomes the commencement of the intra-Afghan dialogue

Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed the launch of intra-Afghan talks stating that Pakistan has fulfilled its commitment and it is now for the Afghans to work towards peace through negotiated settlement. The dialogue between the rival Afghan factions is set to begin today in Doha, Qatar after there were delays in releasing prisoners. The Afghan government is represented by 21 members led by Masoom Stanekzai while the Taliban is led by Sheikh Hakim Haqqani, a close confidant of the group’s chief Maulvi Hibatullah Akhunzada. The dialogue will be witnessed by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, Afghan High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah and Afghan Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar. The latest developments have been welcomed as ‘historic’ by many world leaders, including US President Donald Trump. (Baqir Sajjad Syed, “Seize ‘historic moment’, Pakistan tells Kabul, Taliban,” Dawn, 12 September 2020)

Mr Imran Khan said, “For more than 40 years, Afghans have suffered from continued conflict and bloodshed. Pakistan has endured the fallout – reflected in incidence of terrorism, loss of precious lives, and huge economic cost.” He reiterated that Pakistan stands in solidarity with the Afghan people and emphasized that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and the only way forward is through a negotiated political settlement. (Mumtaz Alvi, “Afghans, Pakistanis suffered so much: Time to honour pledges, says PM Imran Khan,” The News International, 12 September 2020)

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