What is happening in Karachi and the rest of the country is increasing anger and frustration levels. With an immense feeling of helplessness in the pit of our stomach, we truly feel like slapping the hell out of someone- anyone to be able to feel again- to feel that we have some rights if at all. This is not healthy. What are we turning into? Who can we turn to for help? We ordinary citizens do not own arms and ammunition and neither do we want to. We do not have the power to bring the MQM and Lashkar e Jhangvi and Balochi and Sindhi waderas ruining and burning this city to accountability. Let us atleast stick together. Let us be courageous to at least say: Down with MQM, down with Lashkar e Jhangvi, down with Tehreek e Taliban, down with the Sindhi and Balochi badmash ghundas playing with law and order and violating our constitutional rights. At least have the guts to call a spade a spade. And death will come when it has to.



Tragedy in Pakistan: Twin Factory Infernos in Lahore and Karachi

Despite my rising in-sensitiveness to everything under the sun after hearing one horrible news item after the other, I am deeply saddened by the death of more than three hundred labourers and factory workers in the two factory infernos in Lahore and Karachi. Let us please take a moment to pray for their families and the maghfirat of these men and women. Ameen.

This is not the first time; factories in Pakistan have been reduced to dust. A recent timeline published in Dawn here clearly shows that in the past five years, many factories have burnt down and their labourers and workers burnt to death.

With such recurring patterns, why is it that the employers of these laborers and owners of factories are not giving importance to Health, Safety and Environment Standards and following bylaws that protect their employees and their investment?


Factories in Pakistan need to be operated in compliance with the Factories Act 1934. Chapter 3 of the Factories Act 1934 has detailed provisions relating to cleanliness of the factory, methods to dispose waste and effluent from the family, artificial humidification, dust and fumes, over crowding, lighting, drinking water etc.

In fact Section 25 of the Factories Act 1934 clearly states the “Precautions” which every factory has to take against a possible fire. Section 33 of the Factories Act 1934 similarly deals with explosives or inflammable dust and gases in factories. After going through these Sections, these are the questions which immediately come to mind:

Q- Were these factories equipped with adequate “means of escape” in case of a fire and were this fire exit marked distinctly?

Q- Were the provincial inspectors carrying our routine and regular inspections of these factories, in which case, why did it never appear to any Inspector that these two factories did not have adequate fire-escapes, fire extinguishers or no history of fire drills? If this indeed was the case, then did the Inspector ever serve on the manager of the factory, “an order in writing” specifying the measures which should be adopted before a specified date?

Q- Were the exits from any room in the factory locked, fastened or obstructed so that they could not be immediately opened from inside?

Q- Did the factory have in place an effective and clearly “audible means of giving warning in case of fire to every person employed therein”?

Q- Was any dust, gas, fume or vapour which is likely to explode on ignition is being used in the factory; and if so were all “practicable measures” taken to prevent such explosion?

Q- If any plant, tank or vessel contained explosives or inflammable substances, and then was such plant, tank or vessel exposed to any welding, brazing, soldering or cutting operation especially that involving the application of heat or drilling likely to create heat or sparks?

And these are just basic questions. I am sure that once the matter is thoroughly investigated, we will see further glaring loopholes, instances of gross negligence and plain reckless behavior.

We need answers. Karachi and Lahore are mourning an unthinkable tragedy. So many homes have been left disturbed. So many families have suddenly lost their loved ones and in some cases the sole bread earner of the family?

It is not just the employers of the two factories in Lahore and Karachi who are responsible for this tragedy and need to be brought to task,  but the regulatory agencies and inspectors as well need to be made accountable for failing to carry out their jobs honestly and effectively.

Firemen trying to put out the fire in the factory in Karachi.
photocredit: Not mine but a random online newspaper whose name i can’t trace.


How Bad Can it Get?

You know things are bad when the most corrupt man in the country becomes the President;
When the Prime Minister is convicted and still continues to hold office;
When the Attorney General behaves like a nutcase;
When the media sells its so called impartiality to money;
When the judiciary has to justify its honourability;
When the army and agencies role is questionable;
When there is near anarchy in provinces;
When the rich get richer,
the poor poorer and the middle class is choked with the burden;
When giving and taking bribe is an accepted norm;
When ghundagardi becomes a sign of influence;
When security is just a dream;
When people use the Quran to wave it at people rather than following it.
Things then are really bad and this seems to be the beginning. Allah help us.

Collective Sickness

I wanted to write about the degradation of the collective Pakistani Psyche, but then I would be generalizing. If I am a dissenting member, then I am sure others do exist or at least, I hope.

But then there are several things I do not understand:

(i)                 What kind of self-respecting Pakistani will fill up everybody’s facebook feeds with Veena Malik and her latest antics? Are, our brains slowly reducing to the size of peanuts? Is this all we can think?

(ii)               What kind of shameless Pakistani will send you texts and update their Facebook statuses and behave like twits (reference to tweeting! Sorry, I have no love lost with twitter), wishing death to the country’s President, a human.

For starters, I am not a Zardari fan. As far as I know no one is. But will I wish death to him, even if in the form of a lame joke?  No way! Not to him, not to anyone else. I feel sick at this moral decline.

And when Pakistani blogging pioneers and umm.. “social activists” like Awab Alvi ( who of course screams allegiance to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf and whom many youngsters look up to) updates his Facebook page with a below the belt joke about President Zardari and how he wishes that his doctor behaves exactly the same way that Michael Jackson’s doctor did, I almost throw up.

We need to be better than this. I beg of you, my Pakistani brethren. We really should know better. Let our psyche not deteriorate into the gutter. :/

Ghulam Sughra- I am Proud of you !

While going through the newspapers today, i happened to glance upon the picture of a woman being given the International Woman of Courage Award by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama of the United States of America. The lady being awarded was wearing a light blue embroidered shalwar kameez with a red dupatta over her head. She looked Pakistani. A quick check and yes! She is a Pakistani and her name is Ghulam Sughra.

How is it that i had never heard of Ghulam Sughra? This woman is getting an award conferring on her the title, a Woman of Courage. She is one of the ten people around the globe who have been chosen for this award. Clearly, she must have done a lot of courageous and exemplary things to be bestowed this honour. How is it that another country is honouring this woman and most of us in Pakistan have no clue about her identity? I blame no one but myself for such ignorance.

Do you want to know what Ghulam Sughra did to earn this award? Well, where do i start?

Ghulam Sughra is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of a Non Governmental Organization (‘NGO’) known as the Marvi Rural Development Organization. This organization is focused on creating community savings funds and raising awareness of education, health, human rights, and social development issues. Theis NGO has its roots in her home village in Sindh, but has now expanded to several rural areas of Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan Provinces.

Unfortunately the catalyst for her activism was a sad story.  Sughra was forced into marriage in the tender age of 12 years. After six years of a bad marriage, Sughra became the first woman in her village to divorce her husband. The result was  as expected. She was suddenly a social outcast in her own village.

She tried to pick up the pieces of her life and started to attend school. However, whenever she ventured to do so, she was severely beaten by her brothers. Not a woman to give up hope, she continued to pursue her studies at home and went on to become her village’s first female high school graduate in a newly formed Girls Government School. Well, did you expect her to sit at home? No, she then became the first teacher at the first school for girls in her village.

She faced another challenge in this role as well unfortunately. Even though the girls school had been constructed but there were no girls that were being given the permission to come to school. Parents in the village were not motivated to send their daughters to school, owing to the poverty and the social norms in the village.

Sughra has been able to bring a slow and steady change in the perspective of local rural villagers of this country through her NGO. After several years of her work, and especially since she has faced hardship, taboos and seen financial difficulties herself, she is convinced that the quality of life of women in this country will not improve unless issues such as building of good infrastructure such as roads and amenities such as water supply, electricity and compulsory education in the shape of well maintained schools are not provided.

She knows that education is essential to break taboos and for progress. She has been religiously encouraging young girls to go to school and become educated. She feels that it is only education that will empower girls to battle and remove the economic and social barriers to their education.

Sughra has also implemented income generating projects and secured sources of credit so that women living in  the rural areas of Pakistan can achieve the role of a “bread earner” as well, and therefore have have a say in the decision to send their daughters to school, and also prove that their role is complimentary to  the domestic duties they perform at home.

Sughra is a woman we should look up to. She is an asset to our society. We should be ashamed to not have brought her into the limelight and give her the support and acknowledgement she so deserves.

Ghulam Sughra, i am proud of you and Thank You for proving a Pakistani woman’s worth.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C) and U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (5th L) pose for photographs with the International Women of Courage Awards winners (L-R) Bebela publisher and journalist Henriette Ekwe Ebongo of Cameroon, Beijing Zhongze Women’s Legal Counseling and Service Center Director Guo Jianmei of China, Hungary Member of Parliament Agnes Osztolykan, Mizan Law Group for Human Rights Executive Director Eva Abu Halaweh of Jordan, Kyrgyz Republic President Roza Otunbayeva, Deputy Attorney General for Special Investigations against Organized Crime Marisela Morales Ibañez of Mexico, Marvi Rural Development Organization Founder and CEO Ghulam Sughra of Pakistan and Herat Province Prosecutor General Maria Bashir of Afghanistan at the Department of State March 8, 2011 in Washington, DC. The award were given on the 100th anniversary of International Womens’ Day to women recognized for their “courage and leadership as they fight for social justice, human rights and the advancement of women.”


“We have met the enemy, and it is us” (Pogo)

This blogger is not a journalist and neither is she a media news guru. This blogger will not go into the facts of the Sialkot tragedy where two young brothers were lynched to death by a mob including so called security agencies of this country. She will not go into descriptive details and prostitute people’s emotions including those of the boys’ family for more hits on this blog, like the television channels have been doing . If any reader wants details or wants to be sensationalized , you all know where to look.

My mind remains plagued with restless thoughts, my soul roped by helpless anger and my emotions a bundle of despair over one question- Why did the people standing in the crowd never ventured to stop the murderers? How could they keep looking on to the most brutal murders one could fathom? Why did their conscience not prick them? What made them think such extreme vigilante justice  ( assuming some of them thought so) was justified?

So what is Vigilante Justice ?

Stated simply, vigilante justice is when a person or a group of people take the law in their own hands and set out to punish a criminal or an assumed criminal. Hence, without the proper procedure of arrest, investigation, evidence, trial and sentence, any such punishment by such an individual(s) is extra legal in every sense of the word.

Philosophers, like French (2001), equate vigilante justice with vengeance, and tie it into ethics – i.e. correcting a criminal wrong by wrongful means.  Clichéd as it may sound, two wrongs never made a right, and practicing vigilante justice only means moral decline of the society at the end of the day.

It should be clarified that Vigilante Justice is different from civilian watch keeping or protesting organizations who do not intend to take the law in their own hands. For e.g. if there is a neighbourhood watch, where participants take turns to protect the neighbourhood from negative elements with the intention to hand over the miscreants to the Police , then this is not synonymous to vigilante justice. But if the neighbourhood watch turns into an angry mob and tortures , harasses or kills the miscreants, then they would be participating in vigilante justice.

Why would an individual decide to take the law in their own hands?

A day or two after the Sialkot tragedy, I had a conversation with a taxi driver which shed light on the mentality behind vigilante justice. I reproduce our conversation (translated in English) below:


It’s sad whatever happened in Sialkot.  It’s sadder as to how the onlookers didn’t do a thing to protect the boys.


What you are saying is very right and it is sad, but those children have been murdered unfortunately on the pretext of mistaken identity. Chor koi aur tha, maar inn ko diya. (The thieves were someone else, but these boys were murdered instead.)


Even if it is assumed for a minute that the boys were thieves (although evidence suggests otherwise), the boys should have been handed over to the Police. How could they take the law in their own hands and murder them?


What is the use if we don’t beat up thieves? The Police may catch them and put them behind bars, but they will be released in a day or two, and the same dacoits will make our lives miserable and kill our family members based on enmity.


Kya matlab? (What do you mean?)


For e.g. yesterday two young boys in their early twenties tried to rob a PCO in our locality. They shot the PCO’s owner in the leg, grabbed whatever stash of money they could find and made a run for it.  Our neighbourhood boys saw them leaving, and shot the robbers in the legs, and then grabbed them and beat them. The robbers were then put in a room and bound with rope so they wouldn’t escape and were kicked and slapped and punched. All the time, they kept saying, please do not kill us. Whatever happens – do not kill us. For the sake of Allah and the holy Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him), don’t kill us. We called the police and handed the robbers to them. But somebody ask these robbers, do they think of Allah and the Prophet ( m.b.u.h), when they set out to rob and kill people?

What will happen now? The robbers will inevitably be released owing to their connections and now they will become enemies the PCO man and the youngsters who saved the PCO man? What’s the use?


( quite horrified by then at the incident and the presence of free ammunition.)

It is never ok to kill someone. The law should never be taken in your own hands. The law of the state is an extension of the law of Allah where there is an Islamic country in question. The punishment for theft or robbery in Islam is cutting off one hand for the first offence as per Shariah and three (3) years imprisonment as per the Pakistan Penal Code. So if Allah has specified the hadood (limits), then who are we to be transgressors? It is illegal and immoral to take a life . In Islam , we have been told that taking away the life of one person is like killing the whole of humanity. You must remember that.

By that time I had reached my workplace and our conversation ended. But, the conversation exposed the root causes of vigilante justice and its acceptance. Vigilante justice stems where there has been failure of the government and its security agencies in upholding the law and order of the land.  There is bad governance and the citizens have no confidence or hope that they will be protected by the government . So who should we blame at the end of the day? The government, the courts of law and the security agencies of this country? They are perhaps the true murderers of the two boys in Sialkot.

Is Vigilante Justice justified? What are its effects?

Although the phenomenon of Vigilante Justice has been exhibited in countries such as U.S.A, the U.K, China and South Eastern countries, but Vigilante Justice should never be justified as it carries with it several negative concerns.

The people involved in Vigilante Justice are firstly not qualified members of the judicial community, nor do they have the patience to carry out an investigation , and therefore they may break the law in the course of pursuing “justice” – well so called justice  i.e.

Another problem is that Vigilante Justice leads to further bad governance. Providing suspected criminals with a fair trial and an appropriate sentence is an important part of living in a civilized society, as this ensures that the right person is punished. It is ofcourse arguable that many people are wrongly implicated in crimes in this country as well, but then again that is not a justified rationale behind taking the law in your own hands either.

It is agreed that those who deserve punishment also deserve to pay (lex salica) or receive some kind of harm equal to the harm they have done (lex talionis).  But it is also without argument that lex talionis cannot be uniformly applied to every human harm committed., which is  why there are courts of law to sort out the particulars and differences between a criminal who deliberately commits a crime and an individual who accidentally commits a crime. These courts of law also deliberate on the evidence, motive, intention and facts.  Justice and punishment should NEVER be guided by banal, primitive and barbaric emotions like those of that mob in Sialkot.  Violence breeds further Violence.

The vigilante is not an avenger at all as his focus is only punishment and that too fast track and disproportionate punishment. Were the vicious beatings and on-the-spot executions of the boys befitting an alleged crime?  Is it correct for somebody to take the law in his/her own hands thinking that they are victims and then turning into the victimizers themselves?

And then what happens once they take the law in our own hands? There is a  very strong possibility that such vigilante’s would inevitable become criminal themselves, because they have committed murder and have done something worse than that, rationalized the murder. Therefore, such people may feel that it is justified to go against the rule of law at any point.

Carrying out Vigilante Justice is breaking the law. Since when have humans started justifying humiliation, harassment, and cold blooded murder?  Even if it can be assumed that the boys had for e.g. committed robbery, they should have been handed over the Police. It’s just incredible that the Police in this incident was just as barbaric as the mob and remained silent spectators and at times provided encouragement for further barbarism. So, they were encouraging vigilante justice themselves and hence played a vital role in such brutal lynching.

As I wrote earlier, there has to be proportionate punishment for the crime. Was extreme torture and murder proportionate to an alleged robbery? Certainly not ! Not according to the law of the state, nor according to the Shariah ( Islamic law.) Even if the boys had carried out a murder, the right thing to have been done was to lodge an FIR against the boys, get them arrested, and not become murderers. What has been the outcome? A destruction of so many families – from the victims to the victimizers’ . Who has gained what? There is nothing but loss. A loss of morality.

So, what’s my point?

We don’t need to become super heroes for this or that. We first need to become super heroes for ourselves.  We need to become better human beings. We need to cleanse our souls of all negativity and establish prayer, believe in Allah, help the orphans and the needy, love our parents, practice charity and respect each other irrespective of gender (i.e. not bury women alive or take away their self respect). We will not enforce our views on others, not hurt other human beings irrespective of religion, not tip the scales to our advantage for money, not succumb to greed of power, not lie, not cheat, not backbite and not defraud fellow human beings.  We will instead love and practice patience and forgiveness. We will become better humans.

We vow to never let such a brutal incident re-occur. We will not be part of that crowd. We will not be part of that mob. We will step forward and stop those transgressors who take the law , both of the land and that of Allah, into their own hands. There will no other brutal deaths like those of Muneeb and Mugheez. We will ensure that. InshaAllah. We will insist on a speedy and transparent trial , withholding the rule of law in order to ensure justice for the brothers and their family. But we will not become those barbaric, inhuman animals ourselves. We will be different. We will be better. We shall not be and we are not Vigilantes.

© S.Mirza

31 August 2010

Ps.Please take a look at this petition demanding justice for the brothers sent to me by Youth for Human Rights International and if you agree, sign it.   Go to the link:

Please spread the word and get others to sign as well.

The Veil and a Woman’s identity.

Behind the Veil Painting by Richard Klingbeil

Behind the Veil Painting by Richard Klingbeil .

Two news items:

1- France voted last week to ban the full face veil (the niqab) from all public areas, citing it as a victory of Freedom and French values.|

2. Syria banned women wearing a full face veil from university campuses, both public and private citing concerns for its secular identity.

What’s ironical is that Syria is a Muslim country. This does not go well for the right to wear whatever clothes a person wants to wear and howsoever a person wants to practice their religion – values which are enshrined in the constitution of any country. People will argue that if a Muslim country has itself banned the veil then why the fuss over the French veil ban?

It appears that tolerance is fast disappearing from our societies. We need to respect the choices made by others. Just as any women has the right to wear a skirt, or a man bermudas, someone a sari, or another a corset, similarly any given women , irrespective of the fact whether she is a Muslim or a non Muslim also has the right to wear the veil if she wants to.

It is all about personal choice. If any male decides to wear a hat or a mask, I would not be creating a fuss over it so why should anyone make a fuss if a woman wears a veil. We are all entitled to our religious beliefs, aren’t we?

A human will not be evaluated in front of Allah on the basis of whether they wore a hijab  (scarf) or not, or whether they were enveiled or not? What really matters in the end is whether we were true and honest; whether we helped our fellow beings or not, whether we treated our parents, family and friends kindly etc. Then why is a veil suddenly so important and it’s banning is used as a symbol to indicate progress and secular values.

I am thoroughly against discrimination against scarf and veil wearing females. Can’t people see that they work, go to the gym , eat, sleep, have friends, like to socialize, get a better education, like dressing up etc. just like normal females do. They are not aliens and people should stop treating them like one.

Every human should be given the right to dress the way they want to. I don’t understand why governments and people try to hold back a woman from achieving her goals on the pretext of veil and hijab as well. Do you know that some young females of Iran, who are brilliant ice skaters, are not allowed to participate in the Olympics by their government, even though there is a very good chance that they will win? Can a woman who insists on wearing pants play for the Wimbledon? Can you wear the Muslim swim suit and participate in the Olympics? Isn’t this a wrong? Females should be given the right to excel and live their lives they want to, shouldn’t they?

For many years, it was impossible for women to swim competitively in Pakistan, a country with a 97 percent Muslim population, as traditional swimsuits were considered too revealing because they left women’s legs exposed. The Pakistani women swimmer wear a high-neck, vest-style suit that leaves their arms uncovered but covers their legs down to the ankle. In 1997, Pakistan’s government granted permission for the first female swimmers to compete in the Islamic Women’s Games in Tehran, Iran.

The scarf and the veil should not be determining factors woman’s success, and neither should it be used to base stereotypes and assumptions that a woman is submissive, backward or oppressed simply because of these items of clothing. A woman is what she is despite the scarf or the veil.

A woman’s identity is infact hampered when people impose their wishes on them, when they are forced to not study or work, when they are beaten up by insecure males; when males view them as sex objects; when they are FORCED to wear the veil or head scarf or FORCED to not wear it as well, when someone doesn’t promote her or give her a job because she wears a veil or presumes that she is dumb. When she cannot go to a university and restaurant because she wears a veil. Why can’t a woman live her life, just the way she wants? Do people realize that now many women can possibly live imprisoned lives in their homes, because their husbands or fathers forbid them to go out without the veil, which may be very likely owing to the penalties imposed in France and Syria?

To wear or not to wear a hijab is a very personal decision. If you truly intend to empower a woman, then you should NOT be ordering her anything. You should acknowledge HER decision whatever it may be and respect it. It is not everyone`s cup of tea to acknowledge the choices human beings make i.e. if these very people accept that a woman is too foremost a human being.

SarNotsoCozy’s (Sarkozy) issue with the Burqa

Sarkozy says burqas are ‘not welcome’ in France

PARIS (AP) — President Nicolas Sarkozy declared Monday that the Islamic burqa is not welcome in France, branding the face-covering, body-length gown as a symbol of subservience that suppresses women’s identities and turns them into “prisoners behind a screen.


If I was a woman who donned the burqa out of my own free will, and who enjoyed wearing it and considered it as part of my identity, and some day a French President came up to me, and told me that he thinks (for he didn’t care or even asked me what I thought) that a burqa is making me subservient to a man and is making me enslaved, I would call him nothing but a racist. It would also make me wonder what exactly he knows of Islam anyways to pass his grand statements.

However, if I was a woman who was forced to wear a burqa, when I didn’t want to, then his statement would make me clap my hands.


There are always two sides of the coin.

I wonder what women empowerment and non-subservience to a man is?
Posing nude in playboy to satiate a man’s libido or bearing skin to prove my… I don’t know… confidence or equality with man. If a woman can choose to become a nude model, why can’t he appreciate a woman’s choice to cover herself up?

When you impose your choice forcefully on a woman with respect to wearing or not wearing a burqa , then whether you
are the French President, or a husband/brother/son/father, you are denying a woman her choice to live the way she wants to and that makes you nothing but a through and through male chauvinist (unless her actions are against the rules specified by Islam which too is open to interpretation).

I don’t wear the burqa, but I respect a woman who does.

Restoration of Judiciary- Adlia ki Bahali

We lawyers are usually very poised and speak in measured tones, feigning elegance and properness (if that is word). Phir adlia behal hui ( and then the judiciary was restored), and we let loose all the inhibitions. There was the dhol (drum) , and our euphoria took over us. We danced. We screamed. We cried. We laughed. We celebrated. And the nation celebrated with us, except for a few cynical beings. Yes, the shareef ( reference to the politician, Nawaz Shareef) , did not show sharafat at all, and although i am certainly not a supporter of him or his political party- but i also cannot deny the fact that he did play  a huge role in this fight- especially at the last mile, even if it was for his own interests.

No. I did not dance or scream to be dead honest. Working inhouse in the  legal department of a private company, means that you are cut off from mainstream practicing lawyers. I did not participate in the Long March , or took part in the strikes. I was busy working and vetting agreements, at my comfortable deskjob.

The day , the Prime Minister made the announcement for restoring the judiciary, i had infact taken a day’s sick leave. But my spirit soared when the Prime Minsister made the speech. The lawyers did it. The judiciary was restored. So if someone wants to do bhangra and shout out a Braaaaaaa, by all means – do- for tomorrow, you will be back in the courts, with the same serious face and professionalism , fighting for your clients, and justice.

The world will not be perfect. Poverty will not vanish from Pakistan. Corruption and feudalism  may not loosen its vice like grip easily, but the step has been taken. There has been a mini revolution. Maybe i am naive and a wee bit optimistic. Maybe i should know better than to raise my hopes. But that’s just me.  :)

“Girti hui Deewaron ko, Ek Dakha aur do.”

(Give another push (shove) to the crumbling walls.) ;)

ps. I do not want to spoil the jubilations, but i want to clarify, that i never supported Chaudhry Iftikhar. I hate the fact that his face has been used like a branding tactic on flags and flyers . The struggle was never for him . It was for the restoration of judiciary. Technically, i feel that he should resign from his post now. Why? you ask? Because he has the constitution’s blood on his hands as well. He is just lucky that it has gone unnoticed for a much bigger and nobler cause.