Justice for Noor Mukadam – A Tragedy till date

Too many hoops, too many loops, too many protocols – and a system that acts differently based on class.

Almost two months have passed since the death of Noor Mukadam, daughter of Shaukat Mukadam Ambassador of Pakistan to South Korea and Kazakhstan, at the hands of Zahir Jaffer, son of Zakir Jaffer and Asmat Adamjee of the Jaffer Group of Companies.

The killer confessed. There is clear evidence. He not only murdered the victim but imprisoned her, tortured, raped, and beheaded her. He has a history of sexual harassment and violence against women outside of Pakistan, too – yet why does he still enjoy the privilege of living? Privilege any common man who would do the same would never have?

According to Section 302 of Pakistan’s Penal Code, also known as Qatl-i-amd, a state may take one’s life for a murder in retaliation for the crime committed. Section 376 of the Penal Code says the punishment for rape is also death – or a minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment depending on the severity of the act.

Zahir Jaffer has committed both these crimes and more yet still, he stands in courts, like a free man, alongside his family who is also liable in the case, as well as any other parties involved.

Why Has Zahir Jaffer Not Been Indicted Yet?

The reason is simple – this is a case of power dynamics in more ways than one.

In Zahir Jaffer’s case, it was an entitlement and the inability to take no for an answer, so he exercised the greater physical power he held over Noor and killed her. In the case of him not still being dealt the severest hand possible, it’s because his status is cemented deep in the upper class of Pakistan as a man with far too much money. The money the common man wouldn’t have.

So it boils down to two things, which have been subjects of debate without result for far too long – women’s safety and the power of money.

To say that bribery and the like don’t exist in Pakistan should be a crime in itself. The allure of money is often so strong that any man may escape the highest punishment possible. The reason why is something everyone knows and is a debate in itself. The answer lies in why Zahir Jaffer still hasn’t been given the death penalty.

The second thing – women’s safety. First one must ask, why is this even a topic of debate? Women are humans, created by God equal to man, possessing human faculties and intelligence, and rights they don’t get far too often. This nation is at a point where it cannot deny that perhaps it simply hates women for having a gentler constitution than their male counterparts. In other words, simply existing.

Far too many criminals with cases of violence and sexual offenses against women roam free. For what purpose do jails and prisons exist? When debating the #MeToo movement each person screams their opinion on why or why not it should be. But why does no one ever question why the movement even has to exist in the first place?

Who to Blame? 

One thing of note is that even now, Zahir Jaffer’s family is fighting tooth and nail to ensure their son doesn’t go to jail. They know what their son did is horrific beyond all reason. They know that their son was in possession of all mental faculties when committing the act. Yet they get him lawyers to get him acquitted, try to hide the crime, make it look like a robbery – who in their right mind would try to mask a clear-cut murder until the guise of a robbery? Their own actions and consistent retaliation against the law make them complicit in the crime.

Is the love of parents so blind that they would willingly aid and abet a murderer, even if the murderer is their own son? Why do they not realize that perhaps they had a hand in how their son had become? How he had turned out? Tahir Zahoor Ahmad, CEO of Therapy Works, himself stated that when he told Zakir Jaffer what his son had done, his reaction was not what a father’s should have been. Zakir Jaffer and Asmat Adamjee are in fear of losing their son – yet they don’t realize their son also robbed someone of their daughter, in the most brutal way possible.

Zahir Jaffer was an alcoholic with a history of violence and criminal acts – why did the parents pay no heed to him and his descent to darkness? Granted at one point, every person becomes his own independent self, yet the parents hold sway over one their whole life, don’t they? So apart from just Zahir Jaffer himself, where else does the fault lie? His parents? The justice system?

How Our Justice System Has Failed Us 

Probably the biggest reflection of the failure of our justice system – which, let’s be real, acts in bipartition for the poor man and the rich man – lies in the fact that even a man of stature as significant as Shaukat Mukadam – who served as the Ambassador of Pakistan to two countries, South Korea and Kazakhstan – has failed to get justice for his youngest daughter.

Day in and day out, news and reports are being heard of Zahir Jaffer being given the VIP treatment. His parents are being treated the same. Would a poor man ever receive this kind of treatment? No. The only difference is – money. He can afford to have this kind of treatment being given to him and whoever is giving in to him is ensuring that justice is delayed, and as they say – justice delayed is justice denied.

The Murder, its Saturation in the Media and How it Impacts Us as Nation

Let us for a moment sit back and see how the media is milking this story for all it’s worth. While no one is saying that the media should stop covering it, a hyper-saturation would cause some inevitable negative effects.

It will cause de-sensitization in and among the people themselves. As soon as that happens, the case will fade away and no one will care what happens to Zahir Jaffer. He could just as easily go free, being forgotten from people’s memories, regaining his old life back with no consequences whatsoever. What does that say about us as people as well as our justice system? Usman Mirza is also not behind bars, and his accomplices are out on bail. The perpetrator who stabbed Khadija Siddique 23 times is out of jail much earlier than his original sentence – which was not that long, to begin with. How many such cases have gone forgotten because the people and the media either lost interest or no one simply cares anymore? What of the victims and their loved ones?

Why the West Flourishes

Let us take the example of arguably one of the most famous murder cases in history – the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. Derek Chuavin now sits in jail serving a sentence of 22.5 years – as he should. Justice was swift and quick, and the criminal is exactly where he needs to be. The proceedings in total took just a little over a month, and in Noor’s case, it’s almost two months now.

Too many hoops, too many loops, too many protocols – and a system that acts differently based on class. Derek Chauvin was no poor, lower-class man, yet he sits in jail because the US’s justice system did not take into account which strata of society he belonged to.

With all that said – justice for Noor is necessary not only for her family but for us as a nation as well. This may very well be the making or breaking point for our justice system and its treatment of victims. This would teach us just who do we have to rely on in times of need.

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