KOHISTAN: Dr Fouzia Saeed, Chairperson, National Implementation Watch Committee (NIWC) and Dr Farzana Bari, a social worker and Commissioner Hazara Division told The Express Tribune that two of the Kohistani girls were alive in the Sertay village in the Kohistan district and bore no signs of torture.
A team of social workers and Commissioner Hazara met two of five girls reportedly killed on order of a jirga. “We met two girls, Shaheen and Amina and they are happy with their families,” said Saeed.
Saeed said that when they reached the girls’ village, they found it to be deserted. Amid rumors of the families running away, the group decided to divide itself and made teams to search for the girls.
“After traversing rough terrain, we found two girls,” said Saeed. She said that they took pictures so they would be able to recognise the girls. Upon meeting them, Saeed said that the girls “did not seem scared.”
“We wanted to bring the girls back but the administration said that the families would mind it,” said Saeed.
"It is now up to the chief justice to tell us whether this proof is sufficient or not."
"A team, on directions of the Supreme Court left for Kohistan yesterday (June 6), but could not complete the journey due to bad weather," said Saeed. "But today early in the morning we met two girls," she added.
Commissioner Hazara Khalid Omarzai also confirmed that they met girls and they were safe and living happily with their families.
When asked when the girls will be produced before the court, Omarzai said, due to bad weather it is difficult to bring them to Islamabad. He also appreciated the helicopter team which succeeded to reach Kohistan despite bad weather.
Bari said that government should have established their writ and brought the girls here.
Speaking about language barrier, Saeed said that the people of the area speak Shina mainly but all the male members could converse in Urdu as well. “The girls, however, spoke only Shina,” she said, adding that the regional language is not very difficult to understand and that they had a translator to help them understand what the girls were saying.
She added that they have recorded the entire conversation with the girls and will independently verify if it was rightly translated.
Commenting on media’s role during this entire episode, Bari said that the journalists should investigate every issue thoroughly before presenting it to a larger audience.
Reiterating this point, Commissioner Hazara said media should approach all the stakeholders for information and consider everyone’s point of view.
“I kept insisting that the incident never happened but the media refused to believe me,” he said.
Speaking to the media, Mohammed Afzal, the brother of the boys in the video, however, said that he would not believe that the girls were alive until they were brought before the court and fingerprinted to prove their identities.
"I still say that they are dead. If they are alive, I will accept any punishment the court gives me," said Afzal.
Earlier, while the Khyber-Pakthunkhwa chief secretary failed to produce the five girls before the Supreme Court, the chief justice sent a fact-finding mission comprising women activists to visit the Peech Bela union council of Kohistan.
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