Tayyaba Farooq’s story

The case shows troubling vulnerabilities

When justice is denied and voice is suppressed, society must come into action. When a woman is sexually harassed and exploited to serve their purpose by people in power, heads must roll.

On 10 June 2022, in his vlog, journalist Saleem Safi garnered courage to conduct and run the interview of a lady Tayyaba Farooq who narrated the story of her victimhood. The offender was none other than former Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal– a revelation that made all viewers’ heads hang is shame.

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Mr Justice (retired) Iqbal was a retired judge of the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan before he became the Chairman NAB. Can anyone believe that a person of such a position and calibre could stoop so low as to harass a complainant sexually? The added tragedy is that the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) meant for raising a voice for women are silent and inactive. These NGOs are numerous and claim funds to run public campaigns for the rights of women. However, these NGOs are criminally silent. The reason is simple: a person of high stature is involved in the crime against women. The victim holds all proof in the shape of a video recording.

Similarly, it is not known how many other NAB officers resort to similar malevolence while investigating matters related to women. Apparently, the NAB seems to have been transformed into a hub of sexual harassment of women and exploitation of its officers

Credit must be given to the victim who recorded the agony she passed through. Mr Justice (retd) Iqbal had no right and power to transgress his limits. He committed a heinous crime of sexual harassment of a woman in his office, as per the video clips provided and aired by the victim. The matter should also be a concern for the NAB, the reputation of which has been irrecoverably tarnished. Apparently, the era of the NAB is over: on the one hand the NAB was found detaining politicians to manoeuvre the national political scene, whereas on the other it was found exploiting and harassing women. The case of Tayyaba Farooq may be a tip of the iceberg. Instead of speaking up, most female victims tend to guard their silence. Nevertheless, she plucked up courage to take her story public with video substantiations. She deserves both appreciation and justice.

There used to be a Supreme Court which was a flag carrier of doling out justice to the needy by taking cognizance through suo motu notices. Where is that SC and where is its instrument of dispensation? The SC is hushed up because a brother (until a few years ago) judge is found implicated in a crime against a woman. This is called esprit de corps which blinds brother judges. Driven by camaraderie, the judiciary has been denying justice to the victim.

Attached to the matter is a story of a political party, the Pakistan Tehreke Insaf (PTI), which ascended the throne in 2018 somehow with the slogan of accountability. That is, the party was supposed to hold every offender accountable. Nevertheless, the interview of the victim revealed that matters were otherwise. The party ended up exploiting the situation to its benefit.

To elaborate, the party used the video clips to blackmail Mr Justice (retd) Iqbal into dithering on illegal acts committed by elected legislators belonging to the party. PTI Chairman and then Prime Minister Imran Khan was in the know of the matter of sexual harassment. The PTI chairman was supported by a senior bureaucra,t Azam Khan, who happened to be Principal Secretary to the PM.

Tayyaba Farooq’s story indicates that Azam Khan was the chief architect of the strategy of blackmailing Mr Justice (retd) Iqbal into inaction. Interestingly, he exploited his position to blackmail Tayyaba Farooq whereas Azam Khan exploited the whole situation to blackmail him into benefitting the PTI. Azam Khan achieved the purpose whereas Tayyaba Farooq remained at a loss.

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Men on either side of the aisle exploited a woman to their benefit. The victim and her husband were kept as state guests to extract more proof against Mr Justice Retd) Iqbal. It is unbelievable that the state machinery resorted to dropping its moral standards. Further, the media was made silent and society’s women remained noiseless on the highhandedness. This is a crime of immense complexity and proportion, inviting attention of international women’s rights bodies.

If memory serves, on 11 November 2007, The Times published a story narrating that, owing to their dissolute debauched deeds, some judges of Pakistan’s Supreme Court were prone to exploitation, which was attempted by an ace intelligence agency to get a decision in favour of ruling military dictator General Pervez Musharraf who wanted to switch his role to be the country’s president. The judges were being forced to issue a decision letting General Musharraf be  eligible for running for the post of President, instead of waiting for the mandatory interlude of two years. It means that judges come with their weaknesses making them prone to exploitation. Judges fail to overcome debauchery inclinations which make them exploited. Consequently, decisions are fabricated as per the need of the exploiting agency.

Through the video clips, Mr Justice (retd) Javed exposed his vulnerability. That is, he was open to exploitation. He respected the exploiting agency, which was the PTI government. His amenability to exploitation puts a question mark on the decisions he took as the NAB Chairman. It is not known how many times he acquiesced to pressure external to his conscience. It is also not known how many decisions he took by compromising the law.

Similarly, it is not known how many other NAB officers resort to similar malevolence while investigating matters related to women. Apparently, the NAB seems to have been transformed into a hub of sexual harassment of women and exploitation of its officers.

In short, Tayyaba Farooq narrates her story of sexual harassment that took place in the office of the Chairman NAB. The episode has embarrassed the whole society which claims to have inhabited the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The victim female deserves justice.

Dr Qaisar Rashid
Dr Qaisar Rashid
The writer is a freelance journalist and can be reached at [email protected]


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