Despite the fact that the Supreme Court has banned extra-judicial tribunals including village jirgas and tough laws against ‘honour’ killings have been passed by parliament, these practices continue. A jirga of the Mahar tribe which met in the town of Wazirabad in Shikarpur had ‘approved’ and had the killing of two young women from the clan carried out, because they had ‘illicit’ relations with two men from the Jagirani tribe. That tribe was fined by the same jirga for ‘abducting’ the women.
What seems like a chain of events snipped out from history books telling tales of medieval times was made possible to a large degree because the jirga was attended, and reportedly presided over, by Ghous Baksh Mahar, an MNA for the PML-Functional. The party commands considerable clout in the area, and there can be little doubt that the MNA’s presence would have dampened any attempts by the local administration or police to act, even if we assume they had intended to. It is good news that the chief justice of Pakistan on Wednesday took notice of the horrific happening, and summoned the IG Police for Sindh to appear in court. His actions will not restore to life two young women but it demonstrates at least some concern and a willingness to intervene. We hope the ‘lawmaker’ concerned will be questioned and brought to justice and so will others involved in the murders. Still more important is the need to set a precedent, so that others can be deterred from holding similar gatherings and determining who should live and who die.