Kohistan video: Human rights activists meet two out of five girls

Published: June 7, 2012
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Human rights activist says girls safe and happy; brother of the boys who made video insists girls were killed. PHOTO: INP

Human rights activist says girls safe and happy; brother of the boys who made video insists girls were killed. PHOTO: INP

Human rights activist says girls safe and happy; brother of the boys who made video insists girls were killed. PHOTO: INP Human rights activist says girls safe and happy, brother of the boys who made video insists girls were killed. PHOTO: INP

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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Reader Comments (37)

  • Random
    Jun 7, 2012 - 2:44PM

    hmmmm – ok so did we blow this case out of proportion. Its amazing how difficult it seems to reach to the truth in Pakistan

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  • wow
    Jun 7, 2012 - 2:49PM

    i am sure that you are threatened by the jirga.. bring them to court.Recommend

  • S
    Jun 7, 2012 - 3:12PM

    lol, it is blown out of proportion, human right activists have met two girls, why should they be brought to court for no reason? no body wants to go to court for no reason, i will not want to go to court for no reason

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  • Anon
    Jun 7, 2012 - 3:19PM

    No surprises ET decided to whip up hysteria and jump with the rumors first without verifying. Amazing groundbreaking scoop ET!

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  • Asif
    Jun 7, 2012 - 3:21PM

    Another fake story to divert public attention, similar to the video of SWAT of a woman being flogged

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  • Rana
    Jun 7, 2012 - 3:25PM

    Blind Justice !! Lets move to an other brutality…Recommend

  • galli ki larki
    Jun 7, 2012 - 3:29PM

    Now the activist refuses to identify one of the two girls with the face in picture. something is seriously fishy here. Why is bringing the girls to court such big an issue. Its after all case of alleged multiple brutal murder and their names are at the heart of the story.
    CJ and NGO nexus here is not for better but for worse .

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  • EyeRoll!
    Jun 7, 2012 - 3:41PM

    Will ET editorial policy learn a lesson or will they next time again rush to fish for token human rights cases to whip up mass hysteria and outrage about? And then liberals wonder why NGOs and activists in pakistan are not taken seriously!

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  • Imran Con
    Jun 7, 2012 - 3:44PM

    If even the CJ can’t get them produced in court, you have no business claiming those areas are under Pakistan’s rule.

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  • faraz
    Jun 7, 2012 - 4:03PM

    @Asif

    Muslim Khan the famous chief spokesperson of TTP Swat appeared on TV minutes after the airing of video, and categorically took responsibility. He in fact stated that fewer floggings had been delivered. Beheadings, suicide bombings, blowing up of schools is also fake?

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  • Ishtiaq_uk
    Jun 7, 2012 - 4:23PM

    For the sake of “humanity” I hope and pray that all 5 girls are alive and well. It will strengthen my belief that the jirga people are not animals and that they live in dark ages.

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  • Jun 7, 2012 - 4:38PM

    What about other three girls ? ET journalists should have collected information about other 3 girls .The article is totally silent on it . surprised on the way matters are reported. social workers team must have tried to meet the parents/ relatives of the remaining three girls and what was the outcome. News report is blank on it

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  • faraz
    Jun 7, 2012 - 4:42PM

    @EyeRoll!

    Jirga sentenced 5 women and 2 men to death. It was protest by media that saved their lives.

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  • Mj
    Jun 7, 2012 - 4:56PM

    @Random:
    How is the case blown out of proportion? Did or did not were 5 girls and 2 men sentenced to death? Why do we feel the need to sweep terrible things under the rug instead of dealing with medieval mindset?

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  • Hedgefunder
    Jun 7, 2012 - 5:36PM

    @Anon:
    Its not ET, who is running this story ! Its already in UK publications too ! So they found two of the girls! Where are the rest?

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  • Alicia
    Jun 7, 2012 - 5:36PM

    What about the other three girls?

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  • Kashi
    Jun 7, 2012 - 5:49PM

    well they need to met all five girls, where are other 3 girls ???

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  • Ali S
    Jun 7, 2012 - 6:05PM

    I pray that these women are alive and well and if not they are evacuated from that area safely as soon as possible. The person who filmed this should be charged for endangerment of life, defamation and breach of privacy to avoid such unnecessary risks from happening again – are we really reaching the point where women risk being killed for singing and clapping at family events for God’s sake? That’s a new level of crazy even for this country.

    And we need to penalize (at least officially) the “jirga system” instantly – they are free to operate entirely by their own backwards ‘tribal codes’ and it seems like the government actually recognizes it. It’s like having a state within a state.

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  • Veena Malik
    Jun 7, 2012 - 6:22PM

    No one gets the GHAIRAT when helpless girls get murdered in the name of triditions?

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  • Hafeez
    Jun 7, 2012 - 7:04PM

    “I still say that they are dead. If they are alive, I will accept any punishment the court gives me,” said Afzal. Now the court should verify and if no such thing has happened, Mr Afzal should be given exemplary punishment. Not less than 10 years in prison for torturing the whole nation.

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  • Anon
    Jun 7, 2012 - 7:07PM

    @Hedgefunder
    ET was the first to break this story and then the rumor mills got out of control, with the news getting published in the UK outlets. This is despite the fact the entire case was sketchy from the start, and there were suspicions that this drama was just started as a result of tribal rivalries to implicate opponents in death of the girls!

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  • Mj
    Jun 7, 2012 - 7:12PM

    Also, the fact finding mission needs to ascertain whether the women they’ve met are actually who they claim to be or are they decoys presented to save the skin of jirga.

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  • Mirza
    Jun 7, 2012 - 7:17PM

    If one or two of the same or similar looking women are alive then all of them are alive and happy. Great logic!

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  • Hedgefunder
    Jun 7, 2012 - 7:17PM

    @Anon:
    Well, let me assure you that there is never any smoke without fire ! These sort of incidents not even be taking place in 21st century !!!!! Time Pakistan and people start facing some hard facts, as to the role of Women in your society.
    Its OK to have Woman FM and yet its not ok for Women to play in other active roles !!!!

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  • Anon
    Jun 7, 2012 - 7:28PM

    @Hedgefunder
    True I am not disputing you on that point. But when we have the media whipping up hysteria and literally ‘fishing’ for token activism cases, without given due time for the facts to be first ascertained and processed, it actually damages the genuine causes more than helps. What is the end story of this case? The story has been already beaten like a dead horse in the Western media and now the media will move on to the next case they can find. Cases in Pakistan need a more sustained and consistent. Just token unsubstantiated reports only make people more doubtful of the NGOs and lead to unnecessary desensitisation. It’s the boy who cried wolf syndrome, God forbid next time such an event takes place in reality – people will be reluctant to believe it – especially if it is ET breaking the scoop. ET needs to up its standards – Does it want to be Pakistan’s Guardian or the ever hysterical The Sun, because it is increasingly starting to resemble the later.

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  • Kami
    Jun 7, 2012 - 7:51PM

    Another news hype from ET proved to be fake. ET has to find another fake stories to continue working on their agenda???

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  • Random
    Jun 7, 2012 - 8:01PM

    @MJ – Please read my comment again. I have not said anything about the medieval thinking or pushing things under the carpet…

    “Also, the fact finding mission needs to ascertain whether the women they’ve met are actually who they claim to be or are they decoys presented to save the skin of jirga”

    Don’t you think the people who went there would be smart enough to know this …..

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  • Azra Shahnaz
    Jun 7, 2012 - 9:19PM

    All five women must be produced before the Supreme Court and identified in a scientific way, not by the women from Islamabad who neither know the local language nor the know can they identify the affected women. The women from Kohistan are not sheep or goats that they cannot be brought to Islamabad.

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  • amer nadeem
    Jun 7, 2012 - 9:23PM

    “murdered women” are safe, another farce drama ended in smoke, media played highly irresponsible role in this episode, why not they think about image of Pakistan which is, already, being tarnished……

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  • gp65
    Jun 7, 2012 - 10:01PM

    @Anon: “ET was the first to break this story and then the rumor mills got out of control, with the news getting published in the UK outlets. This is despite the fact the entire case was sketchy from the start”

    Well why did the CJ take suo moto notice then. He is not obliged to do so. Obviously he felt something was seriously wrong. It still maybe. They have met only 2 of the girls. What about the other 3?

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  • Jun 7, 2012 - 11:11PM

    The CJ taking sou moto action is prove in itself of the validity of this news. Simply put, this is NOT FAKE.

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  • Jun 7, 2012 - 11:41PM

    in all this case one thing i noticed that our private tv channels are so quick in announcing News alert without confirming and providing solid proofs or information about such news…whether it happened or its just invented story … hope our Media will show some maturity and will not run blindly in race of breaking news.. ..

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  • Expatriate
    Jun 8, 2012 - 12:07AM

    We all wish That the girls are alive and happy in their homes.Afzal ,the brother of the boys who made the vedeo reiterates his earlier statement and believes HR activits story lacks creditability.Why did the activist not meet other girls is mysterious and needs investigated .

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  • Tch tch
    Jun 8, 2012 - 12:42AM

    @Azra Shahnaz: against there will?? Why?? They are a secluded insular community like the Amish. If life long women activist like Dr. Bari are convinced then

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  • Asif
    Jun 8, 2012 - 2:37AM

    I don’t believe a word until it is proven beyond a shadow of doubt. For the most part these girls/women face was covered. How they know they were the same girls?

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  • max
    Jun 8, 2012 - 2:53PM

    where r the 3 others? why not produce them in court?….something is fishy..KPK govt is trying to save its skin

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