It is a shock to learn that on demand from the prosecution, the Anti-Terrorism Court has rejected bail application for Kanwal, a mother of two young kids and wife of Sikandar, who staged a not altogether amusing drama in Islamabad recently. It was lucky that nobody was seriously injured.

Surely, the idea of just anyone standing up, guns in hand, dictating his demands to the society and the country at large is not a move which would be appreciated by anyone! Even though his wife was formally a part of the drama, her case is different and she cannot and should not be treated the same way as the culprit, Sikandar.

We have got to realize that in our male-dominated society, a housewife with no independent income and not coming from an influential family has little choice but to go along with whatever her husband demands of her. Her helplessness becomes even more pronounced when she has kids which add to her responsibility and she is held hostage. From what we learnt of Sikandar, knowing that he was on drugs and unstable he would not have tolerated any belligerence on her part. So, not going along with her husband was not an option for her, as it would have put her and her children’s life at risk.

We have read about Dr Afia Saddiqi and the charges levied on her, now we are doing the same, shamelessly, to another woman in our country. Why is she even being charged? Now that the real culprit, Sikandar, is in their custody, our authorities can get all the information they need from him. There is really no need to keep the lady in custody indefinitely because there is little she could add to the information that the authorities get from Sikandar.

I can't help thinking of Kanwal's children. At their tender age, they need both parents for a balanced life. As it is, they can't have their father with them but there is no need to increase their misfortune by depriving them of their mother. I think the lady should be given bail and allowed to look after her terrified children. The authorities can even put her name on the exit control list and ask her to be available to appear in court, if required, which should not be too often. Maybe the government, that came across as useless is taking out their anger on a helpless woman?


Karachi, September 7.