Open Letter to President Zardari from Women’s Action Forum

Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan

Mr. President, we request you to recall the legacy of Mohtarima Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and her tireless efforts to improve the lot of Pakistani women, towards the goal of women’s empowerment and gender equality.

Khawateen Mahaz-e-Amal (Women’s Action Forum – WAF) Pakistan expresses its extreme concern at the following recent events and reported Government moves, which have gravely negative implications for Pakistani women.

WAF Pakistan is shocked, horrified and outraged at the appointment of Senator Mir Israrullah Zehri as a federal Minister. This is the man who is on record as having actually defended the barbaric and inhuman crime of burying women alive as “a traditional custom”. Zehri also threatened, on the floor of the Senate, Senator Yasmin Shah, who had the courage to speak out 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 cognizable and non-bailable offence, which carries strong punishments. It is also a violation of the 1973 Constitution and the teachings of Islam.

WAF Pakistan is outraged that despite evidence demonstrating the involvement of Sattar Umrani and Fateh Muhammad Umrani (PPP Balochistan stalwarts) in these killings, the Acting Chairman of the Senate, Senator Jan Muhammad Jamali refused to condemn the killings, and the police investigating this case appears to have reached unsatisfactory conclusions. WAF salutes the brave local reporters who brought this news to public attention, as well as the national media and civil society activists following it up. We are extremely concerned to note that they are now receiving open threats, and we call upon you and your Government to provide them effective protection.

WAF Pakistan further condemns the appointment of Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani as a federal Minister, and then being given the all-important portfolio of Education. Please recall that Mr. Bijarani is the MNA who headed a jirga in 2006, which made the decision to give as compensation 5 little girls (aged 2-5 years) to settle a feud between two warring tribes. Hearings about this crime even went up to the Supreme Court. Despite assertions to the contrary, WAF is in factual possession of documentary evidence.

Such a person as Mr. Bijarani is not fit to head the Ministry of Education, as he cannot understand the need to ensure equal educational opportunities for girls, or to develop and implement progressive education policies and programmes or forward-looking curricula.

We strongly condemn these two appointments and request you to revoke them.

A Minister for Women’s Development has not yet been appointed. WAF is strongly opposed to the consideration of appointment of a JUI/F candidate or any other conservative individual for such a sensitive portfolio. You have a number of good options for this post. There are many committed and progressive individuals, such as Senator Rukhsana Zuberi, and MNAs Ms. Fauzia Habib, Ms. Nafisa Shah, Ms. Bushra Gohar, who understand, subscribe to and advocate gender justice, equality and women’s human rights.

Mr. President, we recommend that you kindly re-read the PPP and the JUI/F Election Manifesto sections on Women, before you decide to allocate the Ministry of Women’s Development portfolio to JUI/F or any other conservative party or individual. Just to quote a couple of excerpts from the PPP manifesto: (1) “We promise to give high priority to empowerment of women and ensure their equal rights” (p.2); (2) “The PP commits to its sons and daughters of Pakistan an education system that enables a brighter future than that of their parents” (p.11); (3) “The Party will take institutional initiatives to prevent crimes against Women in the name of tribalism, such as honour-killings and forced marriages” (p.13).

WAF Pakistan reiterates its support for, and expresses solidarity with all those Ministers and Advisors you have appointed, who are progressive, forward-looking and committed to women’s rights, such as Ms. Sherry Rahman, Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Ms. Shazia Marri, Ms. Sassui Palejo, Ms. Tauqir Fatima Bhutto, Ms. Farzana Raja, and others like them. WAF welcomes Sherry Rahman’s statement of Nov12 reiterating PPP’s commitment to women’s empowerment.

In view of the gender equality enshrined in Article 25 (and several others) of the 1973 Constitution, and of Pakistan’s legally binding commitment to international instruments, including the UN Charter of Human Rights, CEDAW and CRC, as well as Pakistan’s acceptance of the challenges of the MDGs (2000-2015), it is imperative that the Minister for Women’s Development be a progressive, forward-looking human rights advocate and worker, with a demonstrated track record.

We sincerely hope that you will urgently address the above concerns, and that you will respond to and take action on this letter in the positive and constructive spirit in which it is written.

Yours truly,

WAF Pakistan


15 responses to “Open Letter to President Zardari from Women’s Action Forum”

  1. noha Avatar

    teeth first of all!! please take off these matrimony sites from ur Blog!!!

  2. Nadcracker Avatar


    This should have been in Urdu or Sindhi if you want Zardari or any of his cabinet members to be able to read and understand what’s written here.

  3. Nadcracker Avatar

    “..WAF Pakistan reiterates its support for, and expresses solidarity with all those Ministers and Advisors you have appointed, who are progressive, forward-looking and committed to women’s rights, such as Ms. Sherry Rahman….”

    Sherry Rehman FORWARD LOOKING????? More like UGLY LOOKING to those who’ve seen her.

  4. Rafay Kashmiri Avatar
    Rafay Kashmiri

    @ The worst enemy of womanhood in Pakistan is

    PPP, promoting anti-women sentiments within

    Pakistani women, first correct the womenfolk within

    PPP, they are all carbon copy of cloned colonial,

    begamats bigotines.

  5. Rafay Kashmiri Avatar
    Rafay Kashmiri

    @ You guys know that in Pakistan we have a ministry

    called ” WIZARAT-E-BEHBUUDE-E-NISWA’N ” All the
    Zindah-Begamats are active there, those who are not,
    for various reasons have atleast their photos hanging
    in living, but to our sheer astonishment, PPP has
    proved to the world her very ” progressive instinct ”
    by creating a “nouveauté” by extending the said ministry
    by adding the following ;

    zeli-wizarat-e-tajheez-o-takfeen-e-Niswa’n (be-hayat)

  6. yaseench Avatar

    i think zardari first has to get a women for himself if he is going to think for other women.

  7. KarimG Avatar

    This is my OPEN letter to WAF.

    Indeed, this is our misfortune that Mr. Zardari has some how made it to the president’s house, supposedly even democratically for all it matters. But, let’s not kid ourselves here, we know what this beast is cut out from. This person is an embodiment of corruption, soulless deal making, the politicking of opportunism. Don’t appeal to him, it does not matter to him what is right, what is fair, what is just, you need morals for that, he doesn’t have any. This thief needs to be picketed, every where including abroad. You will find natural allies abroad among women and decent men when you will inform them who this man is. He likes his children to have western education, doesn’t he? He has daughters doesn’t he? Picket their schools with placards, shame this bastard abroad, that teenager VARIS and leader of the party, picket him by women groups, mobilize against him, don’t appeal that never works with thugs and immorals because they are devoid of it.

  8. Nazish Khan Avatar
    Nazish Khan

    I don’t know where to start .I left the country in my teens in 1980’s and looks like it has gone down hill since then. I am very active in local politics here in New Jersey .Please guide me as to how I can help as far as your organization is concerned.I would like to join WAF and support your cause. For God’s sake when other nations are sending their women to space and crowning them we are burring them alive.This is non Islam or humanity this is a curse from God.

  9. A. H. Malik Avatar
    A. H. Malik

    Journalist Brutally Murdered by Bijarani’s Nephew’s.

    Shahid Soomro, 26, father of two and correspondent of the Sindhi-language newspaper Kawish, was gunned down outside his home in Kandhkot (southeastern Pakistan) on the night of 20 October. He had gone outside his residence in response to a summons by individuals who had initially tried to kidnap him. When he resisted, they opened fire with a Kalashnikov and a revolver and then fled in a vehicle. Hit in the abdomen, Soomro died while being rushed to hospital. His family and friends linked his killing to his reports on abuses during the election campaign. His brother filed a complaint identifying three persons. They were Mohammad Bajkani and two brothers, Waheed Ali Bijarani and Mohammad Ali Bijarani. These two are the nephews of former federal minister Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani and brothers of Mir Mehboob Bijarani, who had just been elected member provincial assembly, and the son.s of Sher Mohammad Bijarani. Hundreds of journalists demonstrated in several cities throughout the province of Sindh to demand the arrest and prosecution of Soomro’s killers. Police arrested Mohammad Ali Bijarani the day after the murder. Waheed Ali Bijarani turned himself in on 23 October. They have not yet been tried till the filing of this report. Mir Hazar is pressurising the family of Soomro to settle outside the court and accept blood money.

  10. A. H. Malik Avatar
    A. H. Malik

    Adil Najam
    Islamabad, Pakistan.

    All major newspapers prominently reported the decision from the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordering “the arrest of the members of a jirga, including PPP MNA Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, that decided to hand over five minor girls for marriage to a family to compensate for a murder in Jacobabad. Three of the 14 jirga members are already in police custody and the court ordered the arrest of the other 11″ (Daily Times).

    The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the arrest of 11 members of a jirga, including PPP MNA Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, for handing over five minor girls to the family of a murdered man as compensation to settle the dispute in Jacobabad. A five-member Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan, Justice Faqir Mohammad Khokhar and Justice M. Javed Buttar took up a complaint of a freelance anthropologist Samar Minallah against the handing over of five girls — Aamna, 5, Bashiran, 2, (daughters of Rahmatullah), Shehzadi, 6, Meerzadi, 2, (daughters of Hafeezullah) and Noor Bano, 3, (daughter of Yar Ali) — to the family of the murdered man as compensation.

    The Supreme Court had in June last year frozen the jirga decision to hand over the minors and ordered police to submit an inquiry report within two weeks. The District Police Officer (DPO) Kashmore was told to conduct an inquiry and arrest the jirga members. When DPO Noor Mohammad informed the court on Wednesday that police had arrested three members of the 14-man jirga, namely Hafiz Qamaruddin, Yar Ali and Rehmat, the CJ asked why were influential people not arrested. “Are you afraid of them?” The DPO explained that he had assumed his duties just one and half months ago. At this, the bench said that police always picked up poor people and were afraid of arresting influential people. The rest of eleven members of the jirga nominated in the FIR are Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, Peer Bharchoondi Mian Abdul Khalique, Thull Tehsil Nazim Syed Ali Akbar Banglani, Ghulam Rasool Banglani, Syed Jalal Shah, Raza Mohammad Banglani, Qamaruddin Banglani, Hafiz Banglani, Habib Banglani and two others.

    The jirga presided over by Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani had ordered the handing over of five minors to the victim’s family and imposed a fine of Rs1 million on both the warring parties to settle a decade-old feud. The feud began in 1997 when one Miandad Banglani was killed in a shootout between Hafiz Qamaruddin and Ali Yar Banglani groups over karo-kari (honour killing) charges in the Kamal Magsi village, Thull tehsil of Jacobabad district. Police registered the case after nine years that too after the media highlighted the injustice. The event of the jirga was recorded by a regional television and was shown during the hearing. The video footage contained statements of Yar Ali and Rehmatullah, fathers of three of the girls, endorsing the allegations that the girls had been given in to the victim’s family as compensation and the decision of marriage had been taken up by the jirga. The case will be taken up again on September 3.

    I am very glad that all newspapers have covered this news prominently. However, I suspect that they may have done so for the wrong reasons. For some it is one more piece of evidence in the new assertiveness of the courts and the Chief Justice. For others it is the fact that a sitting MPA from PPP is the focus of the decision. Both are rather petty issues in comparison to the enormity of the real issue here – the plight of these and all the other young girls who have been violated through this custom of Vani.

    Part of the reason for the unpleasant sense that continues to bug me is that no newspaper seems to have any real information on what has happened to – or will happen to – the girls in question. What about them? I hope I am wrong and we will soon hear about them from the journalists and from the Courts. I will be severely disappointed if it turns out that this is big news simply because it involves a PPP MNA and an activist Chief Justice. I would be disappointed, but not surprised.

  11. A. H. Malik Avatar
    A. H. Malik

    SC rejects Bijarani’s plea for bail

    By Nasir Iqbal

    ISLAMABAD, Sept 3: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected two requests for bail before arrest, one of them filed by PPP MNA Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani who is charged with playing a role in handing over five minor girls to a family to settle a murder dispute in Jacobabad.

    The court also ordered police to deal strictly with people practising customs like Swara and Vanni.

    “Go and seek the protection of the court of jurisdiction,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, heading a seven-member Supreme Court bench, observed. No case for grant of bail had been made out, he added.

    The bench was hearing a complaint of anthropologist Samar Minallah against the handing over of Aamna, 5, and Bashiran, 2, daughters of Rehmatullah; Shehzadi, 6, and Meerzadi, 2, daughters of Hafeezullah; and Noor Bano, 3, daughter of Yar Ali, as compensation to the family of the murdered man.

    “Why should the court grant protective bail to an influential when it rejects similar requests of the poor on technicalities,” the chief justice said.

    Justice Mohammad Nawaz Abbasi said the court would not exercise any discretionary jurisdiction.

    On Aug 15, the court had ordered arrest of Mr Bijarani and 10 other members of a 14-member jirga who were still free.

    Three jirga members, Hafiz Qamaruddin, Yar Ali and Rehmat, have been arrested.

    Besides Mr Bijarani, other members of the jirga nominated in the FIR are Peer Bharchoondi Mian Abdul Khalique, Thull Tehsil Nazim Syed Ali Akbar Banglani, Ghulam Rasool Banglani, Syed Jalal Shah, Raza Mohammad Banglani, Qamaruddin Banglani, Hafiz Banglani and Habib Banglani.

    The jirga, which was presided over by Mr Bijarani, had settled a feud between two groups by offering the five girls to the victim family and fining both the groups Rs1 million each.

    The dispute dates back to 1997 when Miandad Banglani was killed in a shootout over karo-kari charges between groups of Hafiz Qamaruddin and Ali Yar Banglani in Jacobabad district’s Kamal Magsi village.

    Police registered the case nine years later after the media highlighted the injustice. A programme on the jirga decision recorded by a regional television was played during the hearing which contained remarks of Yar Ali and Rehmatullah in Sindhi, endorsing the allegation that the girls had been given in compensation to the victim’s family.

    In June last year, the Supreme Court froze the jirga ruling of handing over the girls and ordered the district police officer of Kashmore to conduct an independent inquiry and arrest whosoever was guilty.

    The other bail plea rejected by the court was of Mian Abdul Khalique who was directed to approach the SHC.

  12. Saeed Shah Avatar

    'Anti-women' cabinet riles Pakistan activists• Brutal attitudes alleged in row over new ministers

    • 'Honour' killings and giving away of girls cited

    Saeed Shah in Islamabad The Guardian, Wednesday 12 November 2008 Article historyTwo notorious politicians accused of brutal attitudes towards women have been made cabinet ministers in Pakistan, causing outrage among human rights activists.

    Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, charged with presiding over a "jirga" which gave away five young girls as a form of compensation, and Israrullah Zehri, who recently made international headlines after defending the burying alive of women in "honour-killing" cases, have been elevated to ministerships.

    Last year the supreme court ordered the arrest of Oxford-educated Bijarani over the allegations, though he remained at liberty. He has now been made minister for education. Street protests and angry newspapers editorials met the induction of Bijarani and Zehri, who were brought in as part of a major expansion of the cabinet last week.

    "It is a very clear message from the government that they don't care about these things," said Samar Minallah, a human rights campaigner who had brought the court case against Bijarani. "I think they deliberately chose these two people to be ministers to send that message."

    The practice of settling disputes by awarding girls taken from the family of those convicted by a traditional meeting of village elders in a jirga to an aggrieved party is illegal but it continues in rural parts of the country. Bijarani, a land-owner from Sindh province, is accused of heading such a jirga in 2006, in which five girls, aged between two and five, were given as compensation to the family of a murdered man.

    Bijarani, who denies the allegations, is a stalwart of the Pakistan People's Party, an avowedly progressive party which leads the coalition government that came to power with the restoration of democracy earlier this year, following eight years of military rule under Pervez Musharraf. The government is led by Benazir Bhutto's widower, Asif Zardari, as president.

    "Is this the politics of appeasement?" said Tahira Abdullah, a member of rights group the Women's Action Forum. "It almost looks like rewarding these men for their deeds against women."

    Iqbal Haider, co-chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said: "The basic character of the cabinet is in support of honour killings. Had Benazir Bhutto been alive she would never have allowed this."

    Bijarani claims he was acquitted by a lower court in his home province. However, it is unclear how a district court could have dismissed the case while it remains before the supreme court after Musharraf dismissed the judiciary in November last year.

    "The jirga system has to be finished slowly," said Bijarani, appearing on a television show in recent days. "When education spreads, then it will finish."

    Zehri, a member of Pakistan's upper house of parliament from a minor party in the coalition, has been made minister for postal services. Earlier this year, in response to news that three teenage girls had been buried alive for trying to choose their own husbands, he told parliament it was "tribal tradition". He later said: "These are centuries-old traditions and I will continue to defend them. Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid."

  13. Nosewheboolve Avatar

    Houston, TX – The Houston Texans signed Andre Johnson to a two-year contract extension on Thursday, a handle that, according to the Houston History, makes him the highest paid major receiver in the NFL.

    Johnson, 29, led the NFL in receiving yards the mould two seasons and had five years and $35 million remaining on his existing contract.

    The List reported the increase to be quality $38.5 million, including $13 million guaranteed. On commonplace, Johnson resolution nowadays turn $10.5 million per year over the next seven seasons, not including effectuation incentives.

    "I in any case said I wanted to put on in compensation unified band, and to be able to play recompense the Houston Texans to my whole career is a tremendous honor," Johnson said. "I everlastingly said I wanted to be business of something memorable, and I knew that coming to a late organization, things were wealthy to be a baby jagged in the origin, and with it I guess like things are engaging that transform with a view us."

    The University of Miami-Florida yield has fagged out his entire seven-year pursuit in Houston after the Texans selected him with the third total pick in the 2003 NFL Draft.

    Johnson has recorded back-to-back 1,500-yard receiving seasons, including a 101-catch, 1,569-yard effort matrix year. He also scored nine touchdowns in 2009 to up his career total to 42 TDs in 102 games.

    "Over the extent of the matrix two years, unknown has played to the on the up that this young man has as fancy that I've been round, other than at one other guy," said nut coach Gary Kubiak. "What he's been doing has been certain, and there's a collection more to come. So, that's prospering to be exciting."

    He has caught 587 passes for the sake of 7,948 yards in excess of the passage of his rush, moral two of the numerous organization records he owns.

  14. AliftAmoutt Avatar

    Hi !

    Sorry to post on this of but I don't know Ipad forum…

    I'm looking for a Gpad (Please check the link. I don't write the website name => I don't advertise)

    Do you think that's android is the best os ?