The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government responded with force on Sunday to the second Kohistan fact-finding mission’s revelations. The mission had expressed its doubts over the identity of the women presented to it.
However, according to K-P Minister for Information Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the whole Kohistan issue had been built on fabricated information, with the clear agenda of undermining the jirga system of administering justice.
“We have substantial evidence that all the five women who had supposedly been condemned to death are still alive and unharmed,” said Iftikhar while talking to the media.
“The members of the second fact-finding mission, including Farzana Bari, personally met four of the five women and recorded their statements,” he pointed out.
Iftikhar maintained that only one of the women, Bazgha Bibi, had been unable to have her statement recorded due to pregnancy.
However, according to the K-P minister for information, the statements of Bazgha’s father, mother and other family members had been recorded, which detailed that she is still alive.
Iftikhar admitted that there still exists doubt over the identity of the women presented to the commission but blamed the photographs for the ambiguity.
“The photographs of the women were not clear and had been taken from a cell phone,” pointed out Iftikhar.
“We had taken new photographs of the women, with their approval, assenting to them that these will not be made public,” he said.
Praising the performance of the provincial government, Iftikhar termed rumours regarding the jirga ruling as well as the issuance of a fatwa calling for their death as utterly baseless.
“It was done with the specific purpose of maligning the tribal justice system,” he remarked.
The provincial information minister requested the Supreme Court (SC) to take a strong action against those individuals who were involved in spreading these rumours to the public.
The fact-finding mission will present its report to the SC on June 20.
Iftikhar asked both the media and representatives of civil society to practise restraint, since the provincial government has undertaken a thorough investigation of the matter.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2012.
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