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Govt Failed To Protect Kohistan Video Scandal’s Whistleblower Afzal Kohistani

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The government failed to protect Kohistan video scandal’s whistleblower Afzal Kohistani, despite him repeatedly requesting the provision of much needed security.

Afzal Kohistani was shot dead in Abbottabad on Wednesday by unidentified armed men near Gami Adda on the Children’s Hospital Road.

Three passers-by were also injured and were taken to the Ayub Medical Complex Hospital. They were identified as Kaleemullah, Said Karam, and Sabir.

According to Express Tribune, Kohistani had written to the Hazara deputy inspector general and Mansehra district police officer requesting the provision of police security due to threats to his life.

Kohistani had repeatedly requested for security as he had even moved his family to an isolated location owing to threats to their lives as per a Vice documentary.

Courtesy: Vice

The incident gained media attention and sparked an outrage in 2012 when it appeared that two boys and five girls, who were seen dancing and singing in a video that was made at a private wedding and was later leaked, were killed on the orders of a local jirga.

The mixed gathering had taken place in an extremely conservative village of Khyber Pakhtunkwa and according to locals, the youngsters had violated the tribal norms.

The local jirga was convened by the girls’ families, which ordered that girls and boys in the video be killed.

Kohistani had brought the case to attention, prompting the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the matter.

An investigative team, which was sent to Kohistan to look into the matter, found that the girls in the video were alive. However, human rights activist Farzana Bari, who was also part of the team, cast doubts whether the girl they had seen were same as were in video. Later, it was proved that the villagers had, in fact, produced some other burqa-clad girls.

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Three of the Afzal’s brothers were killed by the girls’ tribesmen.

On July 31, 2018, a new case was registered at Palas police station on the Supreme Court’s orders. Subsequently, four suspects namely Umar Khan, Saber, Mohammad Sarfraz and Saeed were arrested. Upon interrogation, the suspects confessed to killing three of the girls — Begum Jan, Sireen Jan and Bazgha — by firing, saying they had disposed of the bodies in Nala Chorh.

Afzal had been of the firm view that the suspects were lying. “They killed all five girls by severe torture and are not identifying graves as it will reveal their brutality,” he had said at the time.

Condemnation:

Senior Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Sherry Rehman expressed shock at the murder and said that the issue would be raised in the parliament today.

“This was the brave man who publicised the ‘honour’ killings of girls and boys from the Kohistan video scandal,” she said.

She further questioned as to why he was not provided security.

Farzana Bari questioned if there was any hope for justice?

She said: “Instead of arresting murderers, the police had arrested Afzal’s nephew, who was there for protection.”

Human rights activist Nighat Dad said: “Kohistani fought for justice against the brutal killing of three girls who were killed by Jirga over the simple videos of them being spread in the village in 2012.”

 

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