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TRAGIC STORY OF PAKISTAN’S DR. SHAZIA KHALID

Sexual violence in Pakistan

Women in Pakistan continue to face obstacles when it comes to gaining justice for violations committed against them. Among these violations, rape is one of the major highlighted concerns of the international community and of leading Human Rights Agencies. This article gives an account of the rape of a lady doctor Dr. Shazia Khalid (then working for Pakistan Petroleum Limited) that occurred in Sui tehsil of the Dera Bugti district, on the night of 2 January 2005 by a Pakistan Army officer Capt Hammad. Initial attempts by PPL & Pak Army to cover up the incident and to isolate Dr. Khalid from her family infuriated the local people. Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Bugti Chief, and Nationalist Leader saw the incident as an affront to the honour of the Baloch and vowed to take revenge. The rape of Dr. Shazia Khalid brought the Pakistan Army into a dangerous confrontation with the Baloch nationalists that threatened to destabilize the whole country.

The victim: Shazia Khalid

Shazia Khalid born in 1973 is a medical doctor and advocate of women’s human rights from Sui, Sui, Pakistan. Dr. Shazia Khalid is married to Khalid Aman, a pipeline engineer. In 2005 Dr. Shazia was an employee of Pakistan Petroleum Limited(PPL), and working at the company’s Sui hospital for the past 18 months while living alone in accommodation provided by PPL. Security services for the entire facility were provided by the Defence Services Group (DSG).

Account of the brutal rape by Pak Army officer Capt Hammad

On 2 Jan 2005, Dr. Shazia woke up in the middle of the night, and at first, she thought she was having a nightmare. But this person was really pulling hard on my hair, and then he started pressing on my throat so I couldn’t breathe. He tied the telephone cord around my throat. I resisted and struggled, and he beat me on the head with the telephone receiver. When I tried to scream, he said, ‘Shut up there’s a man standing outside named Amjad, and he’s got kerosene. If you scream, I’ll take it and burn you alive.’ Then he took my prayer scarf and he blindfolded me with it, and he took the telephone cord and tied my wrists, and he laid me down on the bed. I tried hard to fight but he raped me.

The man spent the night in her room, beating her, casually watching television, raping her again and boasting about his powerful connections. A 35-page confidential report by a tribunal describes Dr. Shazia tumbling into the nurse’s quarters that morning: “semiconscious with a swelling on her forehead and bleeding from nose and ear.” Officials of Pakistan Petroleum rushed over and took decisive action.

“They told me to be quiet and not to tell anybody because it would ruin my reputation,” Dr. Shazia remembers. One official warned that if she reported the crime, she could be arrested.

That was a genuine risk. Under Pakistan’s hudood laws, a woman who reports that she has been raped is liable to be arrested for adultery or fornication since she admits to sex outside of marriage unless she can provide four male eyewitnesses to the rape.

Dr. Shazia wasn’t sure she dared to report the crime, but she begged for permission to contact her family. So, she says, officials drugged her into a stupor and then confined her in a psychiatric hospital in Karachi.

“They wanted to declare me crazy,” Dr. Shazia said bitterly. “That’s why they shifted me to a hospital for crazy people.” Dr. Shazia’s husband, Khalid Aman, was working as an engineer in Libya, but he finally was notified and rushed back 11 days later. Dr. Shazia, by then freed, couldn’t face him, but he comforted her, told her that she had done nothing wrong, and insisted that they report the rape to the police so that the criminal could be caught.

Her husband, Khalid, in Libya at the time, rushed back to Pakistan to be reunited with his wife. With his support and despite Pakistan’s notorious much criticised and objected rape laws, Shazia reported the crime.

Atrocities by Pak Army continued

Following the report, for a period of two months, she was put under house arrest in a house in Karachi under the “unofficial protection” of the police, army, and Musharraf officials and was not allowed access to doctors, lawyers or visitors of her choice. In addition, the crime scene and anything that could be considered as evidence, including the clothes of Dr. Shazia, were tampered with or destroyed. When her family was informed some days later, Dr. Shazia and her family were told to keep quiet and dissuaded to register the rape case or speak to the media by the PPL Company representatives, who denied the rape to the media.

Her husband Khalid said, his grandfather demanded that Khalid divorce her, because he felt, her rape had rendered her a stain on the family honour. Khalid refused. So the grandfather assembled a mob to kill Shazia.

Her case led to a violent uprising by the Bugti tribe in Baluchistan province, disrupting the supply of gas to much of the country for several weeks. By some accounts, up to 10,000 soldiers and police were brought in to quell the rebellion. As the Pakistani authorities attacked the Bugti, President Musharraf promised that the tribesmen would “not know what hit them.” and attacks on the Bugti tribesmen were intensified.

Ex COAS shields a rapist

An unusual development occurred, when the then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf entered the controversy, stating on national television, that the accused officer, named as Captain Hammad, was “not guilty”, which led to criticism of Musharraf, a military man himself. Both politicians as well as Pakistani human rights lawyer, Asma Jahangir voiced their criticism and concerns following the statement.

“If the President of the country comes out on television without the investigation being carried out and says that the accused he can assure people is innocent. I believe as a citizen he has no right to say it and if he does, then he is involved in a cover-up” – Asma Jahangir

Attacking the victim

The story of Shazia Khalid’s rape was becoming an embarrassment to members of the Musharraf regime, and so they developed a new strategy. They began attacking the victim.

Stories began appearing in the newspapers claiming that Dr. Shazia Khalid was a loose woman, that she wore suggestive clothes and had many male friends. It was even suggested that she was a prostitute. Shazia was staying in Karachi with her husband Khalid and her adopted son Adnan when the stories appeared suggesting she was engaged in prostitution.

Instead of getting justice, Dr. Shazia was hounded out of Pakistan. In an interview with McKenna Shazia was quoted saying “I did not get justice and I will regret that for the rest of my life” on 28 February 2006.

In an interview with the BBC, Dr. Shazia said that she was threatened many times. “My life was made impossible. I am still terrified. My whole career was destroyed, as was my husband’s. That was why we left our country. Instead of getting justice, I was hounded out of Pakistan. I never wanted to leave Pakistan, but had no choice.”

While General Musharraf was finding this couple’s determination to get justice increasingly irritating, according to Dr. Shazia and her husband, the authorities ordered to leave the country, and warned that if they stayed, they would be killed – by government “agencies” – and that no one would even find their bodies.

On 18 March 2005 Shazia and her husband, Dr. Shazia, left Pakistan on a flight to London, The United Kingdom. She applied for asylum in Canada, where she has relatives, but her application was refused. In August 2005 New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof wrote several articles about Dr. Shazia’s story and urged readers to write to the Canadian minister of citizenship and Immigration asking the Canadian government to reconsider. She expressed great regret in being forced to leave her country, her adopted son and family, her career and life behind for a future unknown.

Unfortunately, through all her tears, guilt and self-doubt, pushed for something more: punishment for the man who raped her, but instead, she was harassed until she finally gave up unheard. Shazia Khalid has since become a spokesperson about the social and legal challenges women face in Pakistan today and advocate of women’s human rights.

Viewpoint

Dr. Shazia’s rape is not a stray incident in Pakistan. Baloch National Movement’s Chairman Khalil Baloch has repeatedly condemned abduction & rape of Baloch women by Pakistani Army personnel.

Baloch Women have shown their bold tenacity and perseverance in the face of extreme adversity and are daring to voice atrocities against them by the Pakistan Army. Despite such harsh realities. Baloch Women have never abandoned hope, they are bravely standing at the front lines of the Baloch struggle for freedom with obstinate resolve.  We must all stand united for Baloch women against Pakistani coercive acts and savagery.

29 Aug 18/Tuesday.                                                                      Written by Afsana 

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