Saturday, August 15, 2015
Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday called the slaying of four Marines and a sailor at a Chattanooga reserve center the act of a "perverted jihadist." He made the comments at a memorial to the five servicemen killed in last month's shooting rampage.
Sporadic protests, political statements, suspended police officers, a lot of confusion and no accountability – this is Pakistan’s response to the biggest child sexual abuse incident in the country’s history. As news broke that 280 children were reportedly sexually abused and filmed over eight years in the Kasur district, some hoped that the incident would be a turning point over the silence seen in all quarters over the systematic sexual abuse of children prevalent in the country. It appears, though, that the opposite is happening. The small protests that have been held against the crime have focused more on the complicity of the police and pushed for trials of the accused via military courts. Responding to pressure on the police, the Punjab government suspended the Kasur DPO and other local police officials while promising that criminal cases will be registered if they are proven to be complicit. The head of the Punjab Special Branch has been removed for telling the chief minister that the matter was a land dispute. Police are still attempting to stop the parents and children from holding a protest in Lahore. Although police have confirmed obtaining more videos of the abuse, the attitude of the Kasur district administration and the Punjab government still appears to favour hushing up the entire matter.
While a joint investigation team has been set up and 14 out of 15 suspects arrested, the way the matter is being handled is still deeply unsatisfying. An anti-terrorism court has remanded seven of the suspects for 27 days. But there is a need for Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to give a public briefing on the issue. Off the record, some police officials are even said to have commented that the ‘children did not look like they were resisting’ in the videos. Such an attitude reflects the deep state of denial this country has always been in when it comes to the issue of rape and child abuse. The demand for justice in this case must not become about revenge, but about instituting the right legal and social practices to avoid such a catastrophe again. The rush to clamour for trials in military courts is a way of putting the issue out of the public eye. Functionally, it means that the protesters are asking for the perpetrators to be sentenced to death out of the public eye. If one looks at media coverage around the case, the issue has already been replaced by the mundane everyday gimmickry of national politics. It is as if we do not want to admit that 280 children were systematically sexually abused and that our political, social and legal system was possibly complicit in the act. With the issue being muddled in the public imagination, it is clear that the government would rather proceed away from the public eye. While the Kasur children may get some form of reprieve, is there a plan to protect the tens of thousands of vulnerable children across the country? It seems not.
Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Friday visited Mazar-e-Quaid and laid wreath at the mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam. Chief Minister Syed Qiam Ali Shah also accompanied PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto. They offered dua at the mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam.