A highly commendable precedent
In July 2021, the gruesome murder of Noor Muqaddam, the daughter of a former Pakistani ambassador, united the entire nation to punish the criminal Zahir Jafar and his accomplices.
The lower courts sentenced the criminal to death, but an appeal was filed in the Islamabad High Court. The lawyers of the criminal were confident that they would be able to get legal relief by proving him mentally ill, but the Islamabad High Court has upheld the death sentence awarded to the criminal by the District and Sessions Court Islamabad and has rejected the criminal’s appeal.
It should be noted that the verdict on the criminal’s appeal was reserved for December 21, 2022, which was pronounced yesterday by the Division Bench of the Islamabad High Court headed by Chief Justice Amir Farooq, while the appeals against the sentence of the co-criminals Muhammad Iftikhar and John Muhammad are also pending. have been rejected.
One of the important points of the decision pronounced by the Islamabad High Court is that the sentence of 25 years of imprisonment given to the convict Zahir Jafar for the crime of rape has also been changed to death sentence. It should be noted that the District and Sessions Court of Islamabad awarded the death sentence to Zahir Jafar in the case related to the gruesome murder of Noor Muqaddam on February 24, 2022.
It should be noted that 27-year-old Noor Muqaddam was raped and brutally murdered in the federal capital about two years ago. Apart from the media, the civil society also protested against the murder. It is fortunate that this important case did not take years and the lower courts gave their verdict in a few months.
Fast track courts should be set up for such sensitive cases so that apart from delivering justice to the victim families as soon as possible, the criminals can also be punished.
One would salute the judges for delivering justice in Noor’s case in such testing times.
It would set a precedent in countless cases of similar nature.
According to the recent World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index, our country is at No. 130 out of 139 states in adherence to rule of law and one way for this low ranking is our judicial system being full of snags where cases proceed at very slow pace. But with decisions as given in the Noor’s case, things can change for better and the elitist system, laced with regressive value will be replaced by a system of justice.
The entire society has taken a sigh of big relief as justice has been served in the most high profile and horrendous murder case of Noor Mukadam, who was killed in a most horrific and horrendous way in July 2021, sending waves of shock in the entire country.
Almost every segment of the society has hailed the verdict which will go a long way in the history of our judicial system, paving way for complete restoration of people’s confidence in our judiciary.
Though this verdict cannot heal the wounds of the parents and the society but it will surely serve as deterrence for the criminal- minded individuals and beasts who will think again and again before resorting to such horrendous acts of rape and murder in broad day light.
One would also salute the courage of parents who did not budge an inch from their fight against the beasts of nights despite the fact that the accused was an influential person and he left no stone unturned to get off the hook.
This will also encourage other parents to seek justice for their daughters and will change the current trend for not reporting crimes against women for avoiding stigma and societal reaction which mostly turns the victim into an accused.
As a matter of fact, Noor’s case was viewed as very critical not only for the victim and her parents but it was vital for future ‘Noors’ as well. And had justice not been delivered in this case, it will have been a total dismay for the women, who are already been blamed for the crimes to which they are subjected while the perpetrators go scot free,
Thanks to media efforts , especially the social media which not only highlighted this case but also kept a track of it by deliberating upon the proceedings of this case after each hearing, keeping the issue alive and demanding justice for Noor with hashtaq like ‘Justice for Noor’ which proved to be goal and end in itself. One hopes it proves to be turning point in the prevailing mindset where victim blaming is a common scene after a woman reports rape or violence against them by the male counterparts. Noor Mukadam’s murder case was deemed to be the ‘litmus test’ for our judicial system as the entire nation wanted justice in this case.
The circumstances of this soul-crushing case were crystal clear and there was no denying that the dreadful incident devastated every sensible soul and the entire society.
In fact, the entire nation was dumb found and devastated at the horror surrounding this incident as such eyes were set on the courts for giving maximum punishment to the perpetrators of this heinous crime.
The way Noor was ‘premeditatedly’ murdered in cold blood in July last had shocked the society and it was demanded that the prime accused must be awarded the maximum punishment under the law, so that a precedent is set to deter other criminal- minded persons from indulging in such heinous acts.
As a matter of case, women are killed with impunity in our society which is evident from the available statistics which show that such gender-based assaults are on the rise.
Noor’s cruel Killing had just spotlighted the crimes against women in our patriarchal set-up.
Published in The Daily National Courier, March, 16 2023