Daily Times Editorial 30 September 2019

Chaman blast and implications

 

On the day when neighbouring war-torn Afghanistan showed resilience and observed a by and large peaceful election despite glaring Taliban threats, militants struck in the border town of Chaman in Balochistan and killed senior leader of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) Maulana Mohammad Hanif and two others. The explosion, detonated with remote control in the main bazaar of Chaman, also left 11 other people injured. The police say the blast aimed at the life of Maulana Hanif, an influential cleric of the town and deputy general secretary of the JUI-F. On the appeal of the party, a partial shutdown was observed across the province to mourn the death of their leader. So far, no group or organisation has come forward claiming responsibility for the attack. Frontier Corps and police personnel are also clueless about the culprits. The death of the maulana also attracted widespread condemnation from politicians from both the treasury and the opposition benches of Balochistan assembly.
Balochistan has been in the news for target killing in recent days. In last month, in Kuchlak, two prayer leaders were killed, and of them one turned to be the brother of Afghan Taliban chief Haibatullah Akhundzada. The other deceased was also an Afghan citizen and had been the imam of the mosque for many years. Though no word has come from the security forces regarding the killing of those Afghan leaders in Balochistan, it is widely believed the attacks were the outcome of the internal fighting in the Taliban ranks. Those days, Afghan Taliban were negotiating a peace deal with the US in Doha, which has met a tragic end. The JUI-F has never been a known player in Taliban related affairs. Their rival, the late Maulan Samiul Haq, however, was known as the father of the Taliban. So, apparently it is hard to relate Maulana Hanif’s death with Taliban affairs. The fact already established, in the wake of the killings in Kuchlak, is that Taliban elements are present in the province. Their presence will keep creating multiple security challenges to the writ of the government and local populations, such as the Shia Hazara.
The occasional resurgence of militants points to the reality of the presence active cells of militants in Balochistan. The conduct of the JUI-F in the wake of its leader’s killing is very mature as it has not blamed any quarters unless some irrefutable proof is found. The party is in the middle of preparation for its political battles in Islamabad. Keeping crime and politics apart is the sign of political maturity. *

 
 

Justice in honour killing

 

The slain social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch has yet to get full justice even though a model court judge in Multan has sentenced to life her younger brother in her murder case, 38 months after the crime. Five other people, including Mufti Abdul Qavi, walked free of the charge even though the convict initially confessed to killing his sister at the instigation of his other brother and with the help of another accused. The Muzaffarabad police station of Multan challaned seven people, all nominated on the complaint of Mohammad Azeem, the father of the victim. They included Mohammad Waseem, Aslam Shaheen and Mohammad Arif (brothers of Qandeel), Haqnawaz, Abdul Basit, Mufti Qavi and Zaffar Hussain. The murder attracted nationwide outcry and condemnation. The police showed efficiency and arrested Waseem the very next day, who confessed to killing his sister Qandeel with the help of Haqnawaz. The ensuing investigation shed light on the role of Mufti Qavi, Arif, who is in Saudi Arabia, Zaffar, Basit and Haqnawaz through supplementary statements of the complainant while Wasim and Aslam Shaheen were the prime accused.
Initially, the complainant showed strong resolved to pursue the case till its logical conclusion. On August 21 this year, however, he announced pardoning his sons; this is what usually happens in honour related cases. The government of the day, on the pressure of civil society, had by the time passed anti-honour killing laws (criminal amendment bill) 2015, which disallow pardoning killers in honour cases. The judge did not pass on the concession to the accused and went ahead with the trial. Another twist in the case came when the police arrested Mufti Qavi after Azeem alleged that the cleric instigated his sons to kill Qandeel. The court acquitted five people of the charge and convicted Waseem while one brother is still at large.
The success of the case is that it has seen a conviction and the enactment of anti-honour killing laws. Hopefully, Qandeel’s case is the last one where someone attempted to forgive the killers or tried to forge compromise to benefit them. The court has rightly set a precedent to refuse to accept any pardon or compromise attempt in honour related case.
Qandeel Baloch challenged social norms when she was alive. In her death, she has struck another blow to the ugly tradition of honour killing. *

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