Focus | Hassaan Niazi On His Role As Uzma Khan’s Lawyer
Pakistan’s Twitter and social media erupted 3 days ago. Anger and outrage dominated the voices that were raised against the ill treatment of actress Uzma Khan and her sister Huma Khan. A bizarre video came out showing the two women drenched in either oil or alcohol, while being threatened and shouted at viciously. The video shows Amna Usman, a relative of Malik Riaz, accusing actress Uzma of having sexual an affair with her husband.
This episode manifests the plurality of divisive issues in Pakistan: elite power, harassment and police ignorance. The overall picture was dominated by the involvement of the daughters of one of Pakistan’s richest men, Malik Riaz. The video shows Amber Malik, daughter of Malik Riaz, aiding in actress Uzma Khan’s harassment with an entourage outside the venue of this altercation.
Naya Daur Media spoke to Hassaan Niazi, who is a member of actress Uzma Khan’s legal team. Hassaan spearheaded the effort to register an FIR against Amber Malik and Amna Usman. He has been publicly pressuring relevant authorities to arrest the accused and for media channels to highlight the issue.
Responding to a question about allegations that he had an old feud or unresolved conflict with Malik Riaz, Hassaan said “I have never fought or had an issue with Malik Riaz. I am only aware of what is public knowledge: shady activities, and cases in NAB and the Supreme Court against him.” He further emphasised that it is his right as a lawyer to represent any aggrieved party. Moreover, he said he has been warned by many to stay away from this case for his own good.
When asked about the threats faced by Uzma and himself, Hassaan categorically stated, “Usman threatened Uzma with dire consequences if she registered an FIR or held a press conference against his wife, Amna.” Hassaan also said monetary inducements were offered to Uzma Khan for dropping the case.
There is much speculation about the ownership and tenancy of the residence where Amna Usman, Amber Malik and their guards stormed in to confront Uzma Khan. Amna had previously claimed that this was her husband’s house, used by him to secretly meet with Uzma Khan – and hence it was justified for her to enter without consent. Hassaan countered “The house where this incident happen is rented by Uzma and Fahad. As per DHA regulations, a single woman cannot be a legal party to a rental lease, and therefore the rental agreement is signed by Fahad. In fact, Fahad and Uzma share the rent and the house has nothing to do with Malik Riaz or his family.”
Hassaan further added that the police are compromised and have shown “zero effort to arrest or take any action against the accused in the FIR”. When questioned about Malik Riaz’s link to this incident, he said, “No one has claimed that it was Malik Riaz who showed up at the house. His name is not in the FIR, nor is this some kind of vendetta.” He added, “However, Malik Riaz’s daughters and their guards are involved in the harassment against Uzma Khan.”
He also noted that big media houses boycotted the issue.
In the past, Hassaan was also lawyer for Khadija Siddiqui, who was stabbed 23 times by her ex-boyfriend. Hassaan led the legal battle to convict the attacker in a highly publicised case.
He had also been spotted in the mob of protesting lawyers that later attacked a hospital, the Punjab Institute of Cardiology.
When asked about his uncanny ability to be present for controversial and hotly contested cases in and out of court, Hassaan said “This is probably because the Niazi blood runs in my veins.”
The writer is co-founder Future of Pakistan Conference and a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science.