RIP Afzal Kohistani | Pakistan Today

RIP Afzal Kohistani

  • Who’s responsible?

What does it say about the state that seven years after highlighting one of the country’s most notorious cases of honour killings, Afzal Kohistani was gunned down in a crowded Abbottabad market and nobody is the wiser about who did it? Let’s not forget, of course, that he had already lost three brothers because of the blood feud that his decision to violate local customs and expose the honour killings triggered. Everything about this case has been a letdown.

Firstly, it doesn’t say much about our society or successive governments that the institution of Jirga is still prevalent and so influential in so much of the country. And this was not one of those cases where young couples run off to marry, only to invite the wrath of societal elders as well as the families. This, as everybody would remember, was because of a video showing three boys dancing and four girls singing at a wedding. Afzal’s crime, of course, was telling the world that three of the girls were killed because they violated society’s honour. The boys in the video, Afzal’s elder brothers, were subsequently killed. And nobody explained just why six men from the killed women’s families, who were convicted of killing the boys, simply walked after being acquitted by the high court in 2017?

That question is important because later, when the Supreme Court ordered a fresh investigation in 2018, police officials claimed that the arrested people admitted killing three girls in the video but later changed their position before the magistrate. This tragic case shows, at every step, just how broken down so many organs of the state are, especially investigation and justice delivery. Of course it is too much to expect that the public revolt triggered by his tragedy will suddenly energise the government or reform the people. But someone should, at the very least, step forward and take responsibility for such sorry state of affairs. Somebody from the government preferably.