Justice finally prevails in the Kohistan video scandal, but not after many innocent lives had been lost. The tribal young man — who dared blow the whistle on the so-called honour killing of three girls –consequently saw his three brothers killed in revenge and lost his own life too in the bloody aftermath of the infamous scandal. It took the cumbersome legal system seven scary years to send three callous criminals behind bars, for life — in what may have been a moment of fulfillment for someone who is still, fortunately, alive to see the day.
The Kohistan video scandal grabbed the headlines in 2012. The mobile phone video — which showed several girls singing and clapping as a boy danced at what was apparently a wedding party in the remote Palas Valley of Kohistan in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province — went viral on social media. Afzal, the brother of the boy in the video, alleged in an interaction with the media in January 2013 that the girls had been killed in May 2012 by members of their own tribe in line with the decree of a jirga which thought that the youngsters had violated tribal customs and brought dishonour upon the tribe. In further punishment, three of Afzal’s brothers were killed inside their home reportedly by men belonging to the girls’ tribe while Afzal’s home was burned down. Afzal, whose repeated pleas for state protection had fallen on deaf ears, was also shot dead this year in March.
Afzal’s long fight for justice ended in his death. But his daunting struggle did serve to highlight the crime in the name of honour to the extent that it was taken note of by the Supreme Court. The inhuman criminals failed to escape the clutches of the law in what sets a precedent in the judicial history of a country where, according to human rights campaigners, about a thousand ‘honour-killings’ of women by relatives are recorded each year. The case must serve to arouse the state to step out against the deep-seated tribal mindset under a comprehensive strategy.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2019.
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