There is no reason that Pakistan's women, should have to live in fear of the savagery and brutality of honour killings. Regressive traditions are savagely held on to, to the extent that the state is complicit. The Supreme Court, accepting compromise in an honour killing case, has acquitted the main accused after hearing an appeal against a Balochistan High Court verdict. The issue of honour killing cannot be eliminated till loopholes in the law are plugged to pave the way for punishing the culprits through the courts.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali heard the appeal by the parents of the deceased Reshma Bibi that appeared before the bench and said they had pardoned the accused Abdul Sattar. The chief justice remarked that the Lahore High Court had ruled that in ‘Karo Kari’ cases there are certain conditions for compromise. The accused counsel argued that the honour killing is a compoundable offence, under section 338 (C) of Pakistan Penal Code – providing no hurdle for compromise in the honour killing cases, and dismissing the prosecution application to enhance the punishment from life imprisonment to death sentence. There was thus some room for the Supreme Court to make a radical decision, but it choose a conservative interpretation of the law and continued the dangerous precedent.

While murder or injury is in most cases seen as a serious crime, with harsh penalties, this is not the case when it comes to crimes against women, especially those that involve the supposed "honour" of families or communities. The law of the land has to be supreme, regardless of personal forgiveness. The law allows for the exchange of "blood money" for family pardons in certain crimes, preventing police or prosecutors from taking action and saving the perpetrators from justice. These provisions ensure that several categories of killers can escape the qisas penalty, not on the basis of any difference in the nature of their crime, but because of their relationship to the victim- especially including several of those male relatives who are the ones most commonly responsible for the murders of their female family members in the name of honour.

No one doubts that even if the law is reformed, change on the ground will take time. However, these laws and precedents need to be created. Those who stand in the way, in the name of tradition or religion or anything else, must be exposed as the agents of patriarchy and cruelty. One wonders if the victim, Reshma Bibi, would think that justice was served by the courts of Pakistan?