ss_blog_claim=3510ec437e8a6cb27e63a93efe23329c



Why is the jirga system being given constitutional cover in Pakistan?
By Shakir Lakhani Published: February 19, 2017

 PHOTO: REUTERS

As if we didn’t have enough problems of our own, the National Assembly has recently given constitutional cover to the jirga system which threatens to destroy the justice system in the country. I thought a system so biased against women would surely not find any support among the masses.

I did some research and spoke to various people and discovered, to my surprise, that the jirga system is indeed very popular in those parts of the country where it is practiced.
“Last year, a man killed my brother,” said one of my workers. “Going to the courts would have taken a long time and a lot of money to settle the case, and the killer may even have been acquitted. The jirga decided that the killer must pay half a million rupees immediately to the widow and also pay Rs5,000 every month until the widow’s sons are able to support themselves.”
There are others who favour the jirga system because it settles property and marital disputes quickly and to the satisfaction of almost all the parties involved. So it seems that the jirga system is popular because the country’s courts are corrupt, slow and highly inefficient.

But is the jirga system as good as people like Imran Khan say it is? Why did a woman like Mukhtaran Mai have to suffer the indignity of being stripped naked, gang raped and made to walk naked in public? How can such a system be popular among the masses? Is it because the jirga is almost invariably composed of men who believe that women are the source of all evil and should be punished, even if they are not at fault?
For those who may have never heard of Mai or forgotten the incident, she was punished for something she did not do. Her brother was allegedly intimate with a woman from another tribe, and hence, the jirga decided to punish her and not her brother. And let’s not forget the hundreds of such cases which result in minor girls being married off to old men as a form of punishment, for no fault of their own but because their brothers or fathers have done something wrong.
The reason for these strange decisions is that jirgas are headed by men who are illiterate and lack exposure. Their only qualification is that they should be rich and influential in the areas where they live. For example, men like Abdul Qayyum Jatoi and Jamshed Dasti, both of whom tried to coerce Mai into forgiving those who had raped her. Jatoi, by the way, is the same assembly member who arrogantly claimed that politicians like him have the right to be corrupt and loot the country.

So, even though our justice system is riddled with corruption, besides being slow and inefficient, our judges have never ruled that women should be made to suffer for things they never did. This is why I believe that the constitutional cover to the jirga system is likely to create chaos in the country. I dread the day when I have to face a jirga and watch illiterate men decide what to do with me. I pray that what I write below never happens to me:

Jirga leader: You are charged with talking to a woman who is the wife of a resident of this village. According to our customs, this is the same as having sex with her. What do you have to say?
Man: Sir, I saw this woman after 20 years. She used to be in school with me before she married and moved to this village. So when I saw her buying groceries, I just couldn’t help myself and spoke to her.
Jirga leader: You called her by name, several people heard you. In our culture, if a male stranger knows the names of any of our women, we kill the woman.
Man: Sir, why don’t you call her to this jirga and ask her if what I’m saying is true or not?
Jirga leader: Too late, she was cut into several pieces and fed to the dogs after being paraded naked and gang raped. This is what we do to our women who are not faithful to their husbands.
Man: But sir, how can I prove my innocence, how can I prove that I was never intimate with her?
Jirga leader: You can walk on burning coal embers for five minutes, or you can be thrown into the raging waters of the river. If you survive, you will be considered innocent.
Man: Even if I do survive, I don’t think I’d be able to live much longer. Isn’t there some way out for me, like paying compensation?
Jirga leader: You can give your daughter in marriage to the husband of the dead woman, or you can pay a million rupees in cash.
Man: I’m sorry, neither do I have a daughter, nor do I have a million in cash.
Jirga leader: Then you’ll have to give your house to him, if you don’t want to be killed.
Yes, this may be an exaggeration, but I am convinced that decisions like this one will become the norm if the government decides that all disputes should be settled by jirgas.
 


Shakir Lakhani

Engineer, former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College, industrialist, associated with petroleum/chemical industries for many years. Loves writing, and (in the opinion of most of those who know him), mentally unbalanced. He tweets @shakirlakhani (twitter.com/shakirlakhani)
 
http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/46253/why-is-the-jirga-system-being-given-constitutional-cover-in-pakistan


Can learning Arabic really prevent terrorist attacks? PML-N surely thinks so
By Shakir Lakhani Published: February 17, 2017


A bill introduced by PML-N MNA, Naeema Kishwar Khan, resulted in discussions about whether lack of Arabic teaching has caused increase in terrorism cases. PHOTO: REUTERS


I suppose it is reasonable to assume that the men and women in our National Assembly are mentally fit – people who think and act rationally. We elect them every five years, hoping that they will solve our problems and make us proud of being citizens of Pakistan. But then, one of them says something completely absurd which makes me want to bang my head against the nearest wall and regret not going abroad after I graduated (those were the days when it was very easy to get a US visa).
I am referring to a female member of the National Assembly who claimed that the increase in terrorism is directly related to our children learning English and not Arabic in schools.
A bill moved by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA, Naeema Kishwar Khan, resulted in discussions about whether the lack of Arabic teaching has caused an increase in terrorism cases. To further substantiate this notion, another PML-N MNA, Parveen Masood Bhatti, supported the bill, stating that terrorism was increasing because students were not studying Arabic. According to her,

“We have started focusing on the English language, and parents put their children in English-medium schools and do not bother teaching their children the Arabic language. It is because of this attitude that terrorism is increasing.”
I do not know whether the ladies think that not learning Arabic has caused a rise in terrorism cases or if learning English is responsible for it. I do think that our children need to learn to read, interpret and speak Arabic as it will prevent them from being brainwashed by virtually illiterate clerics and their interpretations, but it cannot be done for the simple reason that we don’t have enough teachers fluent in Arabic in the country, and the ones we could employ from abroad are most likely not fluent in Urdu. In fact, they would probably be able to teach only in English, which means that our children would first have to learn English before learning Arabic.
Furthermore, it is not as simple as it seems. If speaking Arabic really prevents terrorism, how do you explain the fact that 15 of the 19 terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks were Arabs and spoke Arabic fluently, not to mention that the al Qaeda founder, Osama Bin Laden was an Arab and spoke Arabic fluently as well. Moreover, there are only a few to zero terrorism cases in countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand, where no one speaks Arabic and English is the preferred language by most people. Hence, speaking or teaching English does not cause terrorism. In fact, English has been the preferred medium of language in Pakistan since before its inception, and there was no terrorism until the 1990s.
As for Arabic, all madrassa students have to learn it, and some of the arrested terrorists reportedly belonged to such madrassas – madrassas where they would learn and understand Arabic, interpreted by clerics and their understanding of the Holy Quran.
Hence, it is safe to conclude that speaking and learning Arabic, as taught in many madrassas, is where the problem arises. Since they lack translation and interpretation skills, the students believe whatever they are being taught and are brainwashed to believe that they are serving a higher purpose.
Did it ever occur to the ladies to do some research and find out which is the preferred and common language for suicide bombers and terrorists? Is it English? Yes, they do understand and speak English, but have they ever heard any suicide bomber screaming “God is great” instead of “Allahu Akbar” before blowing themselves up?
So, think again, ladies, it is not language that causes men, women and children to indulge in terrorism, but the environment in which they have been raised. Furthermore, I have a suggestion for you, honourable ladies: why don’t you start learning and speaking in Arabic? You will soon find out if it can prevent you from terrorising those whom you come in contact with every day.


Shakir Lakhani

Engineer, former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College, industrialist, associated with petroleum/chemical industries for many years. Loves writing, and (in the opinion of most of those who know him), mentally unbalanced. He tweets @shakirlakhani (twitter.com/shakirlakhani)
http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/46296/can-learning-arabic-really-prevent-terrorist-attacks-pml-n-surely-thinks-so/

ss_blog_claim=3510ec437e8a6cb27e63a93efe23329c