LAHORE - Over 387 children were sexually assaulted three years ago in Kasur — the same city where eight-year old Zainab has now been raped and murdered.

An anti- terrorism court sentenced two convicts to life imprisonment after they were found guilty, and released four others by giving them the benefit of doubt in the country’s biggest ever child abuse case.

But the question is whether Zainab’s parents could get justice as eight cases of the biggest sexual abuse have been lying pending with the anti-terrorism court since then.

In April, 2015, Ganda Singh Wala, a village in the suburbs of Kasur, emerged as the centre of world’s attention when the victim families came out of their homes to record their protest against sexual assault of their children. The protests had continued for days until the local police lodged 25 cases against 15 people with terrorism charges. Police arrested the suspects and produced them before the anti-terrorism court.

The police said over 387 children were sexually abused in the village and their videos were made and sold in different markets, showing them being forced to do sex. The police said the victims had also been exploited and demanded extortion by the perpetrators.

The court has so far sentenced two convicts namely Haseem Amir and Faizan Majeed to life imprisonment and released four others including Attiqur Rehman, Tanzeelur Rehman and Saleem Sherazi. However, eight cases of the same scandal are still pending adjudicating before the anti-terrorism court.

The court also imposed a fine of Rs0.3 million on the convicts for their role in abusing children. Haseem was the member of a prominent family in Kasur and Majeed was his friend. According to an official with prosecution department, the majority of the suspects could not be sentenced as many of the victims have turned hostile.

“Victims have turned hostile in many cases and they are not ready to testify against any in the court,” a senior prosecutor said with anonymity. He said, “The case of a woman who was raped was also taken up but she herself turned hostile as a witness.” Witnesses are not ready to come and assist the court which is the reason that the cases are still pending, he regretted.

Another prosecutor who also handled the case shared his experience with anonymity, and said, “The suspects have approached the Supreme Court and now all the cases are pending with the top court which has stayed the decisions on the cases.” He elaborated delay behind the pending cases of the biggest child abuse scandal, and said, “When a victim himself shows unwillingness to assist the court or to testify, how the case could be concluded and how the criminals could be punished?”

He further said:  “I played my role in evidence collection and exhibited videos showing children being forced to do sex but there was not witness to take stand.” He also pointed out that political interference is also a hurdle in dispensation of justice as many people of the same village did not join the investigation.