Respected Chief

Minister,

I am a Pakistani woman, a working mother of a three-month-old daughter. We have never met or spoken to each other, nor crossed paths. Of-course, I have heard you on the screen many times, when you address the people after visiting a gathering or inaugurating new projects. And I must say that I have always found you a gentleman who is humble and seems to focus more on his work than publicity; who is an introvert but doesn’t let it be an impediment to his performance.

I understand the past few weeks must have been a challenging time for you as much as it was for the public due to the unfortunate incident on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway. Let me offer my sincere compassion and support for all those in your government who are working with you trying to make this country Riyasat-e-Madina.

Good things take time, they say. I was somewhat assured that we will be able to live safely and securely, with PTI being in power and you as the Chief Minister. But this heinous and barbarous crime committed against one of my fellow sisters on the highway has shocked the entire nation. It has triggered countrywide outrage and unrest with people demanding the heads of the rapists. Almost two weeks have gone by yet the real culprit is at large. My earlier observation about the safety and security of the women stands questioned.

Last time, it was the Zainab case in Kasur that made me feel unsafe. It took me quite a long time to be at peace with myself. But my person is again on trial with myself. It looks as if we, the women, are not safe anywhere and it is a very terrifying feeling sir.

Can you imagine the lack of trust, humiliation, misery, helplessness, and insecurity we women feel in this country? And your CCPO shifts part of the blame on the victim and reminds us that this is not France. Alas, this is Pakistan.

I understand such heinous crimes like rape or sexual harassment happen everywhere in the world, unfortunately. But the sort of victim-blaming we see in Pakistan, truly distinguishes Pakistan from any other country, as the CCPO rightly mentioned.

No woman wants or deserves to live under constant fear. We don’t deserve to pick and choose between our basic liberty to live or to get raped. When I look at my daughter, I feel I am a failure to raise her in a country where being female is looked on with pity tinged with disgust. Where no place is safe for her and her mother. I feel it’s time to choose my future over this country, that I didn’t do in the past despite having the options.

Yes, today as a Pakistani woman, I don’t want to hear any of those lofty promises. I just want my basic right as a citizen of this country to live with my head held high and not sit scared in some corner, apprehensive and fearful that if I go out, I will be attacked in front of my children! Why? Because I am a woman and my existence and survival perhaps do entirely depend on how many men I bring alongside when I walk?

Respected CM, sir. It’s for you to understand that it’s not just one victim here. Today, every female, every daughter of this province feels like a victim, waiting for justice to be served. Please step out and see how the victims are managing to carry on amidst all the uncertainties. We are sitting devastated feeling miserable, abandoned, and lesser human beings. We are also apprehensive that anyone could attack us anywhere anytime, and it won’t change anything on the national horizon.

Today, we want to question where PTI’s vision of Riyasat-e-Madina stands, if women are faced with such brutality and bestiality, which is not permitted in any civilised society. Also, apart from the punishment, as suggested by the Prime Minister, will we ever have a conversation about male dominated behaviours in our society; how boys need to be raised differently, knowing to respect women—not their mothers, wives, daughters and sisters—but just women who they cross by in their everyday course? When will we start having conclusive discussions with religious scholars like Maulana Tariq Jamil, whose opinion about women is no different than that of CCPO, about socio-cultural introspection, addressing the prevalent gender-gap?

Don’t you think, we women, have the right to know that how seriously this incident has changed, if it even has, the course of action, policies, and/or discourse of discussions of our sitting government?

This time, let actions speak louder than words. We live in hope that not only justice will be done but seen to be done to restore our shattered confidence again.

Sincerely, 

Nabeela Rafique

A representative of a lesser segment of society.a