Horrific Domestic Terrorism in Pakistan

May 15, 2016

3 min read

Phyllis Chesler

Her name was Ambreen Riasat. Ambreen is a quite a lovely name and now that is all we have left of her.

Ambreen was only fifteen, almost sixteen years old, when the local religious council (known as the “jirga” or “panchayat”) ordered that she be bound, perhaps sedated, strangled, and then burned alive in a bus.

Her crime? Presumably, she helped  a friend elope with a man her family had not chosen for her.

Ambreen’s village, Makol, is not far from Islamabad and is even closer to Abbotobad, the very place where Osama bin Laden was kept safe-and-sound by the Pakistani government, America’s military ally.

This act of tribal murder is an act of domestic terrorism and should be treated accordingly.

It is being called an “honor killing.” By definition, that is not exactly true.BIN-OpEd-Experts-300x250(1)

An “honor killing” is planned and carried out by a young girl’s family of origin or by a young woman’s husband, often with the help of her family of origin.

This murder was ordered by an Islamic tribal council, long relied upon to settle disputes among poor people. In both Pakistan and India, the governments are at odds with the Muslim and Hindu religious councils that have ordered punishments ranging from public gang-rapes to murder.

This is a murder in the name of Islam–as Islam is being interpreted by a religious council whose power is now being challenged by the government. This is also a murder in the name of a barbaric misogyny; the all-male tribal council does not want other local girls to get the idea that a love match is acceptable.

This is a classic honor killing perhaps in one sense: Ambreen’s mother has been charged along with thirteen council members in her death. She is accused of knowing about this horrific order but failing to notify her daughter or to aid in her daughter’s escape.

Ambreen’s father, Sardar Riasat, has asked: “How can a mother aid in the murder of her own daughter?” My research has shown that honor killings are often aided and abetted by mothers, sisters, aunts, and even grandmothers.

In tribal cultures, a woman’s virginity, fertility, savagely subordinated obedience, and future children all belong to her family of origin and then to her husband and his family, not to herself. Choosing one’s own spouse is considered a dirty, selfish, and dangerous act–and one that is usually a capital crime.

In this particular case, Ambreen’s crime is a crime by proxy, not one she herself has committed. Either the council could not find the eloped pair–or they decided to inflict the maximum haunting guilt upon them by murdering their possibly innocent friend.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has vowed to end honor killings. Playing the “Islamic Card,” he said: “Such a barbaric act is not only Un-Islamic but also inhuman.”

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the Chairman of the opposition PPP party (and Benazir Bhutto’s son)  has called for a “revolt” against these religious councils.

Ambreen’s father has demanded that the Council members suffer the same death as they inflicted upon his daughter.

The village, Makol, where this took place, has claimed that there have never before been any honor killings.

I highly doubt that, given that the Pakistani Human Rights Commission has admitted that 8,694 girls and women have known to have been honored murdered in the last eleven years. The “unknown” number is probably far higher than that.

What is the United Nations doing about this crime against humanity? And about the ruthless slaughter of Christians and dissidents in Pakistan?

Absolutely nothing. All it seems to be able do is further legalize Jew hatred, sexually abuse their female employees and the most vulnerable women whom they are charged to protect in hot war zones–and to party hard in Western capitals.

Reprinted with author’s permission from FrontPage Mag

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