ISLAMABAD, June 6: Liberal Forum Pakistan (LFP) has urged the federal and provincial governments to urgently intervene to save 15 underage girls of Chakrani tribes who were engaged to marry Qalandari tribesmen to settle a blood feud between the two tribes.
In a statement here, LFP Chairman Advocate Anees Jillani, and other office-bearers appealed to the federal government including the minister for women development and minister for social welfare and the provincial government of Sindh to urgently intervene into the matter and save the girls.
On May 28, the Chakrani tribe had pledged to ‘marry off’ three 10-year-old girls to settle the feud with Qalandari tribe, which erupted after the latter tribe’s dog bit a donkey belonging to the former, says a press release.
The eight-year-old dispute was settled in a jirga held in Lanjoo Saghari village near the Sindh-Balochistan border. The Chakranis have so far refused to accept the verdict. The tribal feud has so far claimed the lives of 11 Qalandaris and two Chakranis, including a woman.
The jirga decided to implement a decision announced by Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in 2002, according to which the Chakrani tribe will pay a fine of Rs4 million while the Qalandaris will pay Rs1.2 million to the other and marry off a girl every month irrespective of the ages of their ‘fiances’.
Mr Jillani in the statement has expressed his shock that marrying off under-age girls to settle tribal disputes or crimes like murder or adultery continues to be a common practice among tribes of Sindh and Balochistan.
The feudal ruling class, and the indifferent bureaucracy continues to ignore this practice which is a gross violation of human rights of the children and women involved who are being treated through these jirgas worst than cattle.
Mr Jillani has asked the high courts of Sindh and Balochistan along with other courts to take suo motu notice of this most recent incident and have also asked the Sindh provincial president of the LFP to file a constitutional petition against this jirga decision on the basis of relevant constitutional articles and the Pakistan Penal Code provisions.
A few years ago, Sukkur circuit bench of the Sindh High Court had declared the holding of a jirga illegal on a public interest petition filed by lawyer-cum-human rights activist Ghulam Shabbir Shar. In late 2006, the then chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry had taken suo motu notice of a similar jirga presided over by PPP leader Mir Bijarani.
The jirga had ordered a tribe to give three under- age girls in marriage to their rivals to settle a dispute. The chief justice’s timely intervention had saved the girls from being sacrificed at the altar of tribal customs. Mr Jillani has also asked the print and the electronic media to take notice of such incidents and to keep constant pressure on the authorities concerned and the government to take action against the culprits. Only swift and strong action will deter the culprits from taking law into their hands and to desist from treating girl child as chattels.