Are feudals above the law?

M Shahjahan Memon

IT is no secret that the criminal justice system of Pakistan is rotten to the core. In fact, it is rotten to such an extent that the victims’ families withdraw from pursuing cases partly because they feel insecure as they are threatened by perpetrators and partly because they do not get any support from the state while they are seeking justice.

Against this backdrop, in her recent video statement Shireen Jokhio, the widow of Nazim Jokhio, has withdrawn from pursuing the case and has reportedly forgiven all the alleged suspects involved in the gruesome murder of her husband Nazim Jokhio.

Nazim, a 27 years old journalist and a father of four, was reportedly tortured to death on November 3, 2021 after he attempted to stop foreign hunters, who were hosted by a feudal lord, from illegal hunting in his area.

While preventing and arguing with them, he recorded a video as proof and posted it to his social media account, which went viral.

The influential men brought considerable pressure to bear on Nazim and his family to delete the posted clip.

But he did not bow.Later on, as per reports, he was caught and brutally killed. His dead body was found at a PPP lawmaker’s farmhouse after a couple of days.

His atrocious murder caused public outrage and led to protest demonstrations across Sindh and road blocks by his relatives.

But all of this ended in vain as neither PPP took action against the lawmaker nor was the case referred to the anti-terrorism court (ATC) despite the order by Karachi Malir Court.

To add insult to injury, the alleged killer was granted bail for a few days by Sindh High Court.

Though Shireen’s pardon to the perpetrators has no legal value, the questions arise: why the victim family, who had vowed to pursue the case at any cost, gave in?

Why has it become the fate of Pakistan where powerful elite cannot be held answerable and treated indifferently by the state?

How long will they be enjoying impunity on the part of the state despite being termed “culprit”?.

What impression does the state want to give: are feudal lords above the law or beyond the writ of state?

How long justice will be delayed and denied? Sadly, the state has failed to protect ordinary citizens and ensure their safety and security.

It has done little to prevent them from being exploited, tortured and even killed at the hands of the powerful lot.

In fact, it only serves the interests of the powerful ones; because had the Shireen trust in the justice system and had she been assisted by the state, she would not have withdrawn from the case in the manner she has done now.

There are thousands of cases like Nazim lingering on courts and waiting for justice since long. But justice is not served which results in withdrawal from cases by the victim’s relatives.

The failure to prosecute the alleged is a severe human rights violation and testimony to the fact that some people are certainly above the law.

The state’s failure to prosecute the accused is a big slap on the face of state institutions. It is vehemently urged to pursue the case with letter and spirit of the law and without any delay.

The state should set the example and show that it is with victims, not with culprits. Speedy justice along with safety and integrity of the human life should also be ensured.

(Courtesy Pakistan Observer)