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Induction of Bijarani, Zehri into Federal cabinet slammed

KARACHI – Khawateen Mahaz-e-Amal (Women’s Action Forum WAF) Pakistan has strongly protested over the induction of Senator Israrullah Zehri and Hazaar Khan Bijarani in the federal cabinet.

Women Action Forum, a non-government organisation (NGO), in an open letter to President Asif Ali Zardari, has shown its grave concern over the induction of above-mentioned persons in the federal cabinet saying that it would create negative implications for Pakistani women.

WAF urged the President to maintain the legacy of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and her tireless efforts to achieve the goal of women’s empowerment and gender equality in Pakistan. It also strongly opposed the expected appointment of a JUI-F candidate or some other conservative individual on a sensitive portfolio.

“You have a number of good options for this post and there are many committed and progressive individuals such as Senator Rukhsana Zuberi and MNAs Ms. Fauzia Habib, Nafisa Shah and Bushra Gohar, who understand and advocate gender justice, equality and women’s human rights”, the letter said.

It added that the entire country was shocked, horrified and outraged at the appointment of Senator Mir Israrullah Zehri as a federal Minister because he had openly defended the barbaric and inhuman crime of burying women alive as “a traditional custom”. He had also threatened Senator Yasmin Shah on the floor when she spoke against the heinous crime.

“WAF is of the opinion that such beliefs reflect a blatant flouting with impunity of Pakistani law according to which this heinous crime is murder with premeditated intent – a cognisable and non-bailable offence carrying severe punishments. It is also a violation of the 1973 Constitution and the teachings of Islam”, the letter added.

WAF alleged that despite evidence demonstrating the involvement of Sattar Umrani and Fateh Muhammad Umrani (PPP leaders from Balochistan) in these killings, the Acting Chairman of the Senate, Senator Jan Muhammad Jamali, refused to condemn the crime and the police investigating the incident appear to have reached unsatisfactory conclusions.

WAF appreciated the role of local media and the civil society activists who brought this news to public attention. It appealed to the president to provide protection to the local journalists who are receiving open threats.

In its letter, WAF has also condemned the appointment of Mir Hazaar Khan Bijarani as federal Minister for Education. It stated that it was Mr. Bijarani who headed a jirga in 2006, which ordered five little girls (aged 2-5 years) to be made ‘wanni’ in compensation to settle a feud between two warring tribes. Even the Supreme Court also conducted the hearing of this crime.

WAF letter further stated that Bijarani is not fit to run the Ministry of Education as he cannot ensure equal educational opportunities for girls or to develop and implement progressive policies
Source: The Nation
Date:11/14/2008

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