Pakistan MP in blood feud case
- Thursday, 16 August 2007, 08:31 GMT 09:31 UKE-mail this to a friend Printable versionPakistan MP in blood feud caseBy M Ilyas KhanBBC News, KarachiPakistan Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court has ruled on several cases involving young girlsPakistan's top constitutional court has ordered the arrest of an MP for alleged involvement in forced marriages of five girls aged between one and five years.Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani of the Pakistan People's Party headed a "jirga" or a tribal council which allegedly ordered the weddings to settle a dispute.The case centres around the custom of "vani" in which blood feuds are settled through forced marriages.Mr Bijarani says he did not order the marriage of underage girls.He says he was just trying to bring two warring families in Sindh province together.Following a complaint, the supreme court froze the jirga ruling, ordered police to investigate the case, and arrest jirga members if need be.'Fear God'A police official told the court on Wednesday that only three of the 14 jirga members had been arrested."Are you afraid (of the more influential members of the council)?""You should only fear God," Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry told the official before passing the order to arrest the MP.Justice Chaudhry has a reputation of coming down hard on officials who are reluctant to implement court orders in human rights cases.The five girls belong to a family whose members had allegedly killed a member of another tribe in Jacobabad district of Sindh province in 1997.In June 2006, a jirga held to settle the dispute ordered that five girls be given in marriage to members of the victim's family as compensation.The event was recorded by a regional TV channel and reported in the press.The Supreme Court took notice of the event, and ordered the local police to hold an inquiry.OutlawedThe police delayed the probe, and in March Justice Chaudhry was "suspended" by the country's military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharraf, putting the case on hold.A full bench of the Supreme Court restored Justice Chaudhry last month.The practice of exchanging girls or women to settle blood feuds has been common in large parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan.In Pakistan, the practise has been outlawed and anyone found guilty can be sentenced for up to 10 years, but no-one has been found guilty of the offence so far.The practise is still followed in the vast countryside where government control is minimal and the police remain under the influence of tribal chiefs.The court dealt with a similar case in the same province under which two minor girls were used as compensation in a dispute over buffaloes.The court expressed anger that girls were being given as compensation.