My Response to Alia’s Open Letter regarding Zarina Marri

Dr. Alia,
Thank you very much for your kind mail. I deeply admire your courage to raise the voice of Zarina Marri in the federal capital. What has stunned me the most is the double standards of the Pakistani media, civil society and the political parties demonstrated in the wake of the startling disclosure by the the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) about Ms. Zarina Marri being kept as a ‘sex-slave’ by the Pakistani army and subjected to rape repeatedly along with several other Baloch women in the torture cells administered by the Pakistan army.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the secretary general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) is the brother of the official spokesman of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). Therefore, one does not have to be a rocket scientist to understand the conspiracy being hatched by the big wigs of the Pakistani media and the army to give a cover-up to the whole matter. I tired my level best to speak to the DG ISPR and seek his version of the whole matter. He didn’t pick up the phone. But I am sure he received my SMS that informed him what “allegations” had been leveled by the AHRC and Munir Mengal.
Therefore, he should have confirmed or refuted the statements. The Army has not spoken up yet. The sheep inside Pakistani media are leaving no stone unturned to avoid causing embarrassment to the army by giving a cover-up to Zarina Marri story. I am sure keeping women as sex-slaves at the military detention centers is not the sanctioned policy of the Pakistani army. This disgraceful chapter, however, needs to be exposed and the responsible military officers must be brought to justice. I recommend the impartial international human rights organizations, such as the Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Asian Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan should be mandated to independently investigate the state of affairs inside the Pakistani military torture cells.

We the people of Balochistan feel extremely betrayed today. When a journalist living several hundred kilometers away from Balochistan ‘broke’ a story in the media that five women had been buried alive in Balohistan, an allegation which could never be proved due to the fact that the reporter had not spent a single day in Balochistan, the private news channels in Pakistan sent their DSNGs and media teams from Islamabad to Balochistan to cover the episode live. Why are we seeing a black-out of this disgraceful episode in the media today? Why is the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) no longer interested in constituting a fact-finding team in this regard. Why are the Bolatha Pakistans utterly muzzled today? Where are the editorial writers who keep claiming that they possess the ability to shake the foundations of Pakistani society with their thoughts?

When Dr. Shazia Khalid was raped by a military officer, Captain Hamad, in Sui in December 2005, the then chief of the army and the illegal president General Pervez Musharraf publicly blocked the way of an investigation and defended the rapists by saying that the army officer was completely innocent. Does it not indicate that all the Pakistani soldiers have been recently encouraged to learn is to rape the Baloch women?

I agree with you that the disclosures of Munir Mengal could not be immune to exaggerations or personal biases due to his painful experience of being tortured for more than one long year in the custody of the Pakistani intelligence agencies. Yet, all that needs to be done is to ensure an immediate inquiry into the matter. Why is the country not coming for the rescue of a Baloch school teacher with the same enthusiasm that was seen and widely reported in the media with regards to the gang rape of Mukhtarian Mai or the handover of Dr. Afia Siddiqui. Isn’t the State discriminating the Baloch?

If the Baloch do not have ample representation in the national media, human rights organizations and the top official circles, it does not mean that the right-minded people of Pakistan should also keep quite. Friends like you working in Islamabad are our hope. We need your support at this critical juncture to raise this issue until truth comes forward. Balochistan has already experienced the worst and the most unimaginable violation of human rights in the past few years. An army whose personnel shamelessly rape Baloch women in their cells can surely not be the army that you or me could be proud of.

5 Responses to “My Response to Alia’s Open Letter regarding Zarina Marri”
  1. Anonymous says:

    News reports published in various newspaper and websites that a Bloch woman Zarina Marri, a schoolteacher, was arrested and then raped by military authorities, shocked and terrified not only me but all my female colleagues working as schoolteachers at a school in the cantonment area of Pakistan. A few editorials and other reports at Internet revealed that Zarina Marri, a 23-year-old schoolteacher from Kohlu area of the Balochistan province, was arrested in late 2005, and had been held in an army torture cell at Karachi and repeatedly being raped by military officers. Munir Mengal, the managing director of a Balochi-language television channel, who was arrested on April 4, 2006 from Karachi International Airport by a state intelligence agencies and held in the same military torture cell in Karachi for nine months in which Zarina has been kept, narrated the story of the forced sex slavery of the young lady teacher whom he encountered in the same military cell.

    The military should think as after such type of incidents, how could women be able to work in the cantonment areas? How their parents could allow them to go and work in cantonments. This is shameful, really shameful and horrifying for all women, particularly schoolteachers working in cantonment areas.

    The military should investigate the story and brought Col Abdul Malik Kashmiri, Col Raza and Major Iqrar Gul Niazi to justice, if found guilty, to build confidence among women working in cantonment areas. Otherwise, situation may take some untoward turn and no women would opt to go out of her house to serve nation in cantonment area.


    A schoolteacher

    Punjab, Pakistan.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Zarin’s is the prtotype case of Afia Siddiqui

    With reference to the contradiction by the ISPR on news reports that the abduction and sexual harassment of a 23-year-old Baloch schoolteacher, Zarina Marri, by the officers of the Armed Forces of Pakistan is absolutely baseless, absurd and unfounded, I would like to ask the spokesman of the organization that what it was stating at the time when personnel of “highly professional and disciplined organization” were raping thousands of girls during army operation in East Pakistan in early 70s?

    The ISPR spokesman said in his contradiction that the incident happened in 2006, but no complaint from the alleged victim’s family or school was lodged and moreover, no FIR had been registered in this regard. I would like to ask him as to how family of that girl or school could be able to do in 2006 when nobody knew her whereabouts? How could one know about her location before that as she is still reportedly in the investigation cell of the army intelligence agency and a man released from that cell has revealed her presence there?

    The case is same like the case of Afia Siddiqui. She was abducted in April 2003, but who lodged the FIR? Was she reported to be held in US custody before a lady who visited that cell revealed her presence in US investigation cell?

    The ISPR should also tell as where was the “self accountability mechanism” of the Armed Forces in Dr Shazia Khalid case in the same province?

    I’m courageous enough to say that Zarina Marri is the prototype of Dr Afia Siddiqui, but alas! in the hands of our own defenders.

    In spite of merely contradicting the report, the Armed Forces of Pakistan should properly probe the matter up to satisfaction level of the masses and bring Col Abdul Malik Kashmiri, Col Raza and Major Iqrar Gul Niazi to justice, if found guilty. The military should think after such type of incidents, how could lady teachers be able to work in the cantonment areas? How our parents could allow us to go and work in cantonments. This is shameful, really shameful and horrifying for all women, particularly women schoolteachers working in cantonment areas.

    Army should take some concrete action, otherwise, situation may take some untoward turn and no women would opt to go out of her house to serve nation in cantonment area.


    A lady schoolteacher,

    Punjab, Pakistan.

  3. I felt a shame to read this article that pokistani army do this kind of thing.I known that pokistani army killing our BALOCH brother and sister but I listened that pokistani army do this type of thing.I thing pokistani people do sucide and one thing I say Balochistan well get freedom.doing this kind of shameful thing baloch will be more strong and start killing of punjabis in balochistan.

  4. Najeeb Qazi says:

    After this all,one ought to be almost sure now that the Baloch is purely justified in their demand for liberty from the unlawful Pakistani occupation!

  5. khairbakhsh says:

    I feeling shame. The cries of Zarina Marri are making people sleepless in Baluchistan but who cares? I think that freedom of Baluchistan is creeping forward. We didn’t learned from our mistakes in East Pakistan by raping thousands Bengali women and destroying their houses.

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