Monday April 22, 2019

An 18 year-old school teacher set ablaze after refusing a marriage proposal in Pakistan

Independent Human Rights Commissionof Pakistan records 76 cases of women being set on fire

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Last year in 2015, in a similar incident a Pakistani woman was 'set on fire for refusing marriage proposal' and died in Multan, Pakistan.
  • 18 year-old school teacher based in Punjab province of Pakistan died of burn injuries
  • On June 1, police arrested three people in Islamabad in connection with the killing
  • The provincial government has set up a three-member team to investigate the case

ISLAMABAD- Police reported on Thursday, June 2 that an 18 year-old school teacher based in Punjab province of Pakistan died of burn injuries after she was set on fire for refusing a marriage proposal.

Her family members told that the perpetrators beat Maria Abbasi, then drenched her in petrol and set her ablaze before leaving her for dead, reported CNN.

Maria Abbasi was baby-sitting a younger sister near Murree, Pakistan. Image source: CNN

“Maria was at her home in Murree town baby-sitting her five-year-old sister while her family had gone to attend a funeral in a nearby town,” said Rafaqat Abbasi, her uncle.

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“At the funeral, her family was alerted that she ‘was on fire’. Initially they thought there had been some accident, perhaps a pipe had burst or something.”

Violence on women: A Pakistani teenager Aamna Bibi, seen here as she is taken to hospital on Thursday, has died from her injuries after setting herself on fire when police set free her alleged rapists in 2014. Image source: Reuters
Violence on women: A Pakistani teenager Aamna Bibi, seen here as she is taken to hospital on Thursday, has died from her injuries after setting herself on fire when police set free her alleged rapists in 2014. Image source: Reuters

When the family returned home, they saw Maria lying on the floor, with 85 per cent of her body covered in burns, the uncle said. Maria was taken to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad, where she later succumbed on Wednesday.

Nabeela Ghazafar, Punjab Police spokesman said, three people were arrested on Wednesday, June 1 in Islamabad in connection with the killing. An arrest warrant is out for a fourth individual, she added. The provincial government has set up a three-member team to investigate the case.

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According to the report from independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, there have been 76 cases of women being set on fire. Commission also said that violence against women remains rampant in the country.

-prepared by Bhaskar Raghavendran (with inputs from VOA), a reporter at NewsGram. Twitter: bhaskar_ragha

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Surely not accepted by anybody. Pakistan needs to look into women safety issues

  • Pashchiema Bhatia

    Why these people cannot absorb a rejection? .. Women aren’t any object… They have the right to make their own decisions.. People generally argue that these sort of things happen on the spur of the moment.. This is nuisance.. In India also, people talk about women empowerment on one side and on the other side cases of acid attacks show up ruining the lives of innocent girls.. This is too much to bear

  • Shubhi Mangla

    This is shameful!! Just because she didn’t want to marry that person she was set ablaze..pathetic! The police should punish the culprits ASAP. I hope the authorities don’t take this matter casually just like the many other crimes that go unattended.

  • devika todi

    it is shameful that such things still happen in the world. don’t we have a say in matters that concern us and our entire life? should anyone be harmed, if their decision goes against our wishes?
    this is barbaric.

  • sahil nandwani

    It is very dissapointing! The women’s should not be harmed like this the police should take strict actions agaist such kind of persons.

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Surely not accepted by anybody. Pakistan needs to look into women safety issues

  • Pashchiema Bhatia

    Why these people cannot absorb a rejection? .. Women aren’t any object… They have the right to make their own decisions.. People generally argue that these sort of things happen on the spur of the moment.. This is nuisance.. In India also, people talk about women empowerment on one side and on the other side cases of acid attacks show up ruining the lives of innocent girls.. This is too much to bear

  • Shubhi Mangla

    This is shameful!! Just because she didn’t want to marry that person she was set ablaze..pathetic! The police should punish the culprits ASAP. I hope the authorities don’t take this matter casually just like the many other crimes that go unattended.

  • devika todi

    it is shameful that such things still happen in the world. don’t we have a say in matters that concern us and our entire life? should anyone be harmed, if their decision goes against our wishes?
    this is barbaric.

  • sahil nandwani

    It is very dissapointing! The women’s should not be harmed like this the police should take strict actions agaist such kind of persons.

Next Story

The Errant Son: Mir Murtaza And Al-Zulfiqar

Would the Bhutto charm, have worked on India? And had it been so, would the map of the Indian sub-continent today, have resembled the idea of a free market zone in South Asia, with porous borders?

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Mir Murtaza Bhutto with Shahnawaz Bhutto
Mir Murtaza Bhutto with Shahnawaz Bhutto
Tania Bhattacharya
Tania Bhattacharya

By: Tania Bhattacharya

India-Pakistan relations have hit a record low following the dastardly Pulwama Attack on a CRPF convoy in Indian administered Kashmir, on the 14th of February this year. Curiously, the Pakistan PM Imran Khan, made a statement a few days ago, endorsing the Indian PM Modi, and suggesting, that in case there was a re-election of the latter, the Kashmir issue may be finally resolved. This scenario is significant, given that both Imran and Modi, are perceived hardliners in their respective nations. As some South Asian policy watchers have noted, it is hawks like the two aforementioned heads of state, and not peaceniks, who are more likely to take large risks over bilateral issues involving the two neighbours, since if any of them is required to acquiesce, they cannot be labelled as anti-nationals. Peaceniks, their good intentions aside, are looked upon with suspicion in their countries, which accuse them of selling out.

 

These are the heady days of jingoist patriotism in South Asia, where Right Wing organizations seem to be faring much better than the other political alternatives; but there was a time not very long ago, when Southern Asia was in a sweet spot between Dictatorship and Democracy, where conducive factors facilitated the spectre of Left-Wing radicalism, in both India and Pakistan. Between the imprisonment of Pakistan’s democratically elected PM Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and the mysterious plane crash that killed President Zia ul Haq in 1988, a shadowy entity by the name of Al-Zulfiqar had emerged out of the pale, and rocked the Zia dictatorship, with its nuisance value. What were the origins of Al Zulfiqar, and who, was its chief executive officer?

The PIA Hijack drama
The PIA Hijack drama

We must retrace our steps to the early 1970s, when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the Pakistan president. His eldest son, and second-born, Mir Murtaza, would build a lavish tent on the sprawling lawns of 70 Clifton, the Bhutto residence at Karachi. Inside the private sanctuary he had made for himself, the young lad would read the influential works of prominent Marxist revolutionaries like Lenin, Mao, and Che Guevara. The walls of his tent would be adorned with posters of world-famous figures, who had adopted Marxist techniques and applied them to their personal agendas. Murtaza had become deeply involved with the guerrilla warfare ethos of Socialist insurgents and quickly became a role model for his younger male sibling, Shahnawaz, junior to him by four years.

 

Sensing that the wayward, and obstinate nature of the older Bhutto was getting him into trouble with his high school officials and law enforcement, Zulfiqar had insisted, that Murtaza abandon his tent, and his Leftist reactionary literature, to concentrate on his school syllabus, so that the straight and the narrow could produce results for the latter. As soon as it became possible, and after consulting his wife Nusrat Bhutto, the President had packed off his enfant terrible to study in the United States, and then to England, where he hoped, that a new environment would change him. It was here, that Murtaza shone. A thorough academic, he researched upon and produced a dissertation, concerning the consequences of India’s nuclear program, on Pakistan. He developed the reputation of being a cad, and somewhat of a lady’s man as well, during his student years in London, where he was a regular sighting at nightclubs, with one or the other pretty girl, on his arm.

 

His father, had made the issue of the ‘Muslim Bomb’ an international one, arguing, that since the Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Marxist political spheres had their own, ultimate weapon of mass destruction, it was only fair that the Islamic world follow suit. Israel though not openly belligerent with the bomb, was suspected of being in possession of the technology to construct one, in 1966 itself. Moreover, it had refused to sign the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty). Pakistan, under his leadership, he had sworn, would ‘gift’ the Muslim world with its first nuclear weapon. The president’s (and later, Prime Minister’s) son, would broach the topic on an academic level, and make its knowledge, widespread.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto with his third wife Husna Sheikh
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto with his third wife Husna Sheikh.

Murtaza was yet abroad, when his father, by the time, the democratically elected Prime Minister of his country, was toppled in mid-1977, in a military coup, headed by General Zia ul Haq, who until the event, had been Zulfiqar’s handpicked Chief of the Pakistan Armed Forces; and a man, that the confident, and arrogant premier, termed his ‘monkey general’. In a letter, handwritten to her brother, Benazir had advised him to travel to the United States, to meet with American leadership, that were friendly with the Pakistan Peoples Party, to plead for assistance in toppling the dictatorship of Zia. Interestingly, she had told him to steer clear of a top Bhutto aide, Ghulam Mustafa Khar. This is testified by Lt. General Khalid Mahmud Arif in his book Working With Zia. Khar, an uncle of PPP ex-Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar (2008 – 2013), had been a confidante of Prime Minister Bhutto, who he faithfully plied to the home of Bhutto’s first, secret mistress, and then, legally married third wife, Husna Sheikh, on a daily basis.

 

From the United States, Mir Murtaza had decided that it was not judicious to return to a strife-ridden homeland, which was experiencing its umpteenth military rule. Instead, he had flown to Syria and then Libya, to garner support from  Hafez  al-Assad and Muammar Gaddafi respectively. The Assads and Gaddafi were supportive of the Bhuttos. Zia to them, was an American puppet that had been installed as a means to an end, that too, through an undemocratic and unpopular regime change. It was in Syria occupied Lebanon, that Murtaza had begun building up a guerrilla outfit, which he named, the PLA (Pakistan Liberation Army). Members from the PPP back in Pakistan, were herded off to the Middle East, for rigorous guerrilla training, that was imparted by the Leftist PFLP (Popular Front For The Liberation Of Palestine). When Mir Murtaza deemed that the time was ripe for ambushing Zia’s men in positions of power; the trained militia of PLA flew to Afghanistan, where they continued further arms training, awaiting an opportune moment, to cross into their homeland, using the mountainous, and lawless tribal routes of northern Pakistan, which flanked the Durand Line.

 

While in Kabul, Murtaza Bhutto decided to rename his outfit Al-Zulfiqar Organization, or AZO. Shahnawaz, the younger son of the jailed premier, joined his older brother and was imparted training in guerrilla warfare, and violent Marxist insurrection. When not wielding guns in army fatigues, the young volunteers and the Bhutto brothers, would watch Bollywood flicks to kill time.

 

Initially, all Shahnawaz wished to do, was to open a tourist agency in Pakistan, and live quietly with the Afghan object of his affections. But the restless circumstances that engulfed the young man, forced him to join Al-Zulfiqar, all the more so, as it had his older brother at its helm; a man he had much admired from the days of his youth.

&nbs