Tribal (in)justice: Six face death for attending mixed gathering

Published: May 28, 2012
The women allegedly sang Mahiyas (folk songs) at a wedding ceremony and danced in the presence of Na-mehram (those who one can marry in Islam). DESIGN: S. JAMAL

The women allegedly sang Mahiyas (folk songs) at a wedding ceremony and danced in the presence of Na-mehram (those who one can marry in Islam). DESIGN: S. JAMAL

KOHISTAN: In a shocking instance of tribal (in)justice, a jirga in a remote village of Hazara division has condemned four women and two men to death for ‘staining the honour’ of their families.

They were allegedly caught on videotape singing and dancing together at a wedding ceremony in violation of the “tribal custom of gender segregation”.

The women, all of them married, have been called back from their in-laws and locked in a room in Seertaiy village, in Peech Bela union council of Kohistan district.

“A tribal jirga has declared them Ghul (fornicators). And they might be killed any time,” said Muhammad Afzal, elder brother of the two men condemned to death. The men have, however, managed to flee.

Afzal added that the women allegedly sang Mahiyas (folk songs) at a wedding ceremony and danced in the presence of Na-mehram (those who one can marry in Islam).

The wedding ceremony took place two months ago in Bando Baidar village, which is also in UC Peech Bela. Some unscrupulous guest shot the women and men singing and dancing with a mobile phone video camera, sources told The Express Tribune. The amateur video was later sent to the women’s kin.

The tribe to which the women belong was incensed by the video. They convened a jirga of tribal elders a month ago. The elders found the women and men guilty of violating tribal and Islamic norms by singing and dancing together.

“The jirga did not bother to hear the ‘accused’ and condemned them to death,” Afzal told The Express Tribune. The jirga has tasked 40 young men to kill the ‘fornicators’. The tribe has also raised a fund of Rs400,000 for litigation that may ensue.

According to the jirga’s  verdict, the men have to be shot dead first.

The ‘accused’ women, two of them having children, are locked in a room in their parental village. “They are tied with ropes. They are being starved,” claimed Afzal.

The local police chief confirmed that the jirga has condemned the six people to death. “I’ve spoken to the tribal elders and I’ll utilise all resources available to stop these executions,” Abdul Majeed Afridi, the district police officer (DPO), told The Express Tribune. He has already sent a police party to Seertaiy village to recover the women.

Afzal voiced doubts about the authenticity of the video and accused his foes for forging it to humiliate his family. “Since our family is affluent and owns vast acres of forestland, orchards and agriculture farms in Bando Baidar village. They (our rivals) hatched a plot to deprive us of our property,” he claimed.

Afzal claimed that the forged video did not show his brothers and the women dancing together.

DPO Afridi, who claims to have seen the video, agreed with Afzal. He said that the women were seen singing Mahiyas and clapping their hands in a room. On the other hand, the clip showing the men has a different background.

Afzal works as a clerk at the office of Abdul Saboor Usmani Advocate, the lawyer who practices criminal law at the Abbottabad Registry of Peshawar High Court (PHC). Usmani called the jirga’s decision a blatant violation of human rights.

He added that the women were being tormented – both mentally and physically – without any crime. Afzal added that the jirga had no right to condemn somebody to death. “Still, if they believe my brothers have broken some law, let a court of law decide the matter,” he said.

Afzal, however, said that he had appealed to Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti during his recent visit to Battagram to provide him and his family security against his foes. He warned that otherwise local police and the provincial authorities would be responsible for any harm to him or his family.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (42)

  • Saad
    May 28, 2012 - 5:59AM

    Welcome to Jahilia !


  • Disco
    May 28, 2012 - 6:05AM

    These people are not human. This must be stopped.


  • Imran
    May 28, 2012 - 6:06AM

    Taliban and similar crazy peeps court first sentenced Shakil Afridi (hero) to death and now are executing these women and men. I am also aware that a lot of people will support this.Islam has nothing at all to do with these people at all. They are a menace to society. Insanity has prevailed.


  • Californian
    May 28, 2012 - 6:44AM

    Will no ghairatmand puristani blame USA/India/Israel/CIA/Mossad/RAW for this?


  • Animal Farm - Desi
    May 28, 2012 - 6:49AM

    ‘Legendary Bigotry’; Jungle law guised under religion…


  • Disco
    May 28, 2012 - 7:02AM

    I feel sorry for the women of KP in general and FATA. Their men don’t deserve them, they trea them like cattle. It shows their mentality. The measure of a man is how he treats his woman


  • Babloo
    May 28, 2012 - 7:26AM

    Jinnah’s Pakistan. Its destiny. However, I feel very sad for the women and their families. What barbaric culture.


  • Zalim singh
    May 28, 2012 - 7:30AM

    wow. Islamic justice.


  • Thoughtful
    May 28, 2012 - 7:41AM

    These wise jirgas and their beastly ways.


  • Polpot
    May 28, 2012 - 7:44AM

    “The local police chief confirmed that the jirga has condemned the six people to death”

    This valiant police officer has as yet not rescued the women and has the time to talk to Press!


  • May 28, 2012 - 7:54AM

    Wait a minute. Why do segregation is practiced in Saudi Arabia and such Islamic states, if this is a one off Tribal system?

    Over time, Arabisation has affected the Tribes in these areas. Tribes are thoroughly Islamic now.


  • Mirza
    May 28, 2012 - 8:21AM

    It is ironic that the men fled and the women have to deal with this injustice alone. What a shame that these women and Dr. Afridi are not dealt with according to the law of the land but ancient laws and regulations.


  • M. A. Changezi
    May 28, 2012 - 8:29AM

    We still live in stone age. Sad.


  • May 28, 2012 - 8:43AM

    Caliphate is coming n this is a sign of it. Everyone will get justice like tgese women very soon.


  • Send some drones
    May 28, 2012 - 8:43AM

    That will stop them.


  • xyz
    May 28, 2012 - 9:07AM

    only in the ‘ land of the pure’


  • May 28, 2012 - 9:50AM

    As a patriot Pakistani, I full heatedly support drone strikes on these tribal jirgas and their supporters. Inhuman beasts in Pakistan society who give judgements without even washing their faces.


  • citizen
    May 28, 2012 - 10:06AM

    OMG . Who will stop them from execution? Immediate steps should be taken .


  • Maher
    May 28, 2012 - 10:13AM

    Such a stupid and barbaric act…


  • kaffir
    May 28, 2012 - 10:20AM

    Thats why I say, renounce religion and become secular, thoroughly secular like France or Turkey. Read “Dechristianization of France” on wikipedia. Once upon a time, France was called the little sister of Catholic church because it was thoroughly catholic until it decided to become secular, and the rest is history.


  • Faysal
    May 28, 2012 - 11:11AM

    Kohistan is the most backward area Pakistan, and the people are proud of their backward ways.


  • Shue
    May 28, 2012 - 11:18AM

    If we know the women are alive…why doesn’t anyone help them ?


  • kaalchakra
    May 28, 2012 - 11:23AM

    Look, let’s be honest. Mixed gatherings are really NOT OK. If you don’t wish to follow Allah’s commands in their proper spirit, go ahead and do anything you like, but at least don’t distort the True Path.

    Having said that, death sentences seem a little excessive for a one-time mistake. As a first-time warning, a hundred whips each would have sufficed – enough for people to understand their spiritual obligations, not enough to escape punishment by turning into spirits.


  • Anurag Singh (@anuragiiith)
    May 28, 2012 - 12:29PM

    People in North-East of India are also tribal but they don’t follow these types of tribal jirga . So only tribalism is not at fault here but religion also has a part in this.


  • murali
    May 28, 2012 - 12:58PM

    Wow! Imran Khan is a die hard fan of tribal justice. good going Pakistan, keep it up


  • A J Khan
    May 28, 2012 - 1:10PM

    By this standard, I would have been dead long long ago.


  • kaffir
    May 28, 2012 - 1:41PM

    @kaalchakra : Let Allah force people to follow his commands, why are you so worried. Mind your business.


  • Khan
    May 28, 2012 - 3:39PM

    I’ve spoken to the tribal elders and
    I’ll utilise all resources available to stop these executions,” Abdul
    Majeed Afridi, the district police officer

    Mr Majeed Afridi the DPO of area must arrest these culprits .. its is his duty to stop this nonsense and arrest these so called tribal elders .. In any other country where police is a respected and professional force, they would have worked day & night to recover these people by any means possible. It seems our DPO has not even raided a single time yet for their recovery.
    I wonder what is criteria for becoming officers in this country as it sure isn’t merit or professionalism.


  • Animal Farm - Desi
    May 28, 2012 - 4:34PM

    Wonder if any society, in today’s world is more fanatical, bigoted, narrow-minded, self-righteous, uninformed and misinformed, and proud of it, than us.


  • Akhunzada
    May 28, 2012 - 5:03PM

    Police Should arrest the Jirgar people and register FIR and Also Police should take quick action to save the lives of women.


  • Sahibzada Shabir
    May 28, 2012 - 5:12PM

    I condemn this

    Please dont relate all this stupidy with religion and jirga system, Islam and Jirga system does not allow this kind of barbaric acts.

    the people involved should be brought to justice specially the woman


  • ashar
    May 28, 2012 - 5:58PM

    You are not advocating Islam rightfully. May be you are too young to involve in this sort of debates. Jirga is itself un-Islamic, how it can announce Islamic punishment and execute them. This system is nothing but a mixture of religion and thier culture which is not desired in Islam and what is correct is the total submission of culture before religion which then give way to Islamic culture, full of equality, justice, peace and tranquility for every one living in this atmosphere.
    The question arises, why the jirga let it happen? And for the Indian friends I would repeat it has nothing to do with Islam, however this is considered an evil, but the way of handling it in Islamic rule is entirely different.


  • Huma
    May 28, 2012 - 9:38PM

    endorse ashar’s views totally.


  • leila rage
    May 28, 2012 - 10:24PM

    the slow and systematic murder of all traditional and indigenous culture, and the imposition of barbarism and stupidity.


  • Jawad
    May 28, 2012 - 11:12PM

    well most of th people above discussed it as FATA area/people.
    Mind tht Kohistan tribak area is nither FATA nor Pakhtuns.
    Tribal doznt mean only Fata. Most of th pakistan is tribal mean rural areas based on ethnical geo alocation.


  • leila rage
    May 29, 2012 - 12:25AM

    @kaalchakra: after a few hundred lashes they would be dead anyway


  • Dr. Drone
    May 29, 2012 - 1:20AM

    Don’t you thinks a few drone strikes will take care of these barbarians? Jusk ask and we will oblige.


  • Californian
    May 29, 2012 - 1:31AM

    @Anurag Singh: It has nothing to do with religion, only with civilization. Muslims in the West, Bangla Desh, India and Turkey do not go around killing people because they dance, or are seen in the company of opposite sex. This problem seems to be endemic to the land of the pure, and at the rate killings are going on there, only the purest of pure will be left, all thirty seven of them. And they will all be less than two years old.


  • kaalchakra
    May 29, 2012 - 7:18AM

    ashar bhai, you are right. I was wrong about the jirga. It is harmful local tribal culture which we need to replace with Islamic mechanism.


  • Aditya Randhawa
    May 29, 2012 - 11:17AM

    your thoughts show that you and your country are going in right direction.And even better for the world.


  • Khan
    May 29, 2012 - 2:52PM


    I feel sorry for the women of KP in general and FATA. Their men don’t deserve them, they trea them like cattle.

    Generalisation doesn’t help my friend. I’m from KPK and your comment is highly insulting most of the news, regarding domestic violence comes from other parts of the country.
    Besides its one region and everywhere is same culture .. I bet you have never been to KPK but yet you have your opinion about us.
    Women in KP are no different than any where else in the country. We are a poor country and nowadays everywhere women who are educated, work outside their house and KP is no exception.


  • Monawar Shah
    May 29, 2012 - 4:40PM

    Dear Sir, Although you’ve highlighted the issue in a good and different perspective. It has a sure impact. But as a tribal man I have a problem with the Title/Headline of the piece.

    Sochilogists can have a very broad meaning for the word Tribal, and tribalism would have no good sense in Pol. Scince, But the word has been used almost every where and all the time for the inhabitants of FATA(in Pakistani context). These guys are already facing a very international trouble and propagation, and trying hard to get rid of it.
    Also if we let alone the problem of terrorism for a while, the People of tribal built have a lot of pluses that no one, no where in the world can barely have.

    Now if something bad happens through a tribe some where in N Africa, it would not be fair to make the people confuse it in any connection with Tribes living in FATA.

    I hope my comments would not cause hard feelings.
    thank you.


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