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Forbidden Love in Pakistan

Rahul Roy
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Joined: Mar 24, 2003
Posts: 50
Newsline (Karachi), November 2003
In the Name of Love
Shaista Almani faces possible death under jirga
law for marrying of her own free will.
By Zulfiqar Shah
Shaista Almani and Balakh Sher Mahar, a young
couple from Ghotki in Sindh, who dared to marry
against their families' wishes and reportedly
fled the country fearing for their lives, have
now been forcibly brought back to Ghotki to face
a tribal jirga.
The couple was apparently brought back
to Ghotki on October 25 after Ali Gohar Khan
Mahar, brother of Chief Minister Ali Mohammad
Mahar and sardar of the Mahar tribe, promised the
sardar of the Almani tribe that Shaista would be
brought back to her family at any cost.
According to reports, Shaista has
been handed over to a local sardar, while Balakh
Sher Mahar has returned to his village in Ghotki.
Following tribal traditions and the jirga justice
system, Shaista will remain in the haveli of an
impartial sardar, till a grand jirga decides a
fitting punishment for marrying without the
consent of her family and tribe. In this
particular region of upper Sindh, most matters
are decided by sardars and tribal lords, rather
than the law of the land. The sardars operate
with complete impunity and their authority is
unquestionable; often even court decisions are
flouted.
Shaista and Balakh Sher got married
and a court in Karachi ratified their marriage
documents, but the Almani sardar was not willing
to accept this marriage. "Religion and the courts
have their own place, but we have to hand the
girl over to her family," says one sardar from
Ghotki. Even Chief Minister Ali Mohammad Mahar
declared Shaista's and Balakh's marriage against
tribal traditions and values. When questioned by
a journalist in Sukkur, Mahar said, "The couple
did wrong, but the sardars are trying to resolve
the matter amicably."
When they appeared in court in the
last week of September, Shaista and Balakh Sher
openly declared that their lives were under
threat. "I have committed no crime. I just got
married according to Islamic injunctions, but my
life is in danger," said Shaista to reporters.
"God will help us, we have done nothing wrong."
The couple reportedly left for the UAE in the
first week of October after several human rights
organisations held demonstrations demanding that
the government provide protection to the couple.
Though the furore settled down
somewhat after newsreports that the couple had
left the country, Shaista's family continued to
pressure the Mahar tribe. According to sources,
Sardar Ali Gohar Mahar, nazim of district Ghotki,
had promised the Almani sardar that Shaista would
be brought back in one month. True to his word,
Mahar tracked down and brought Shaista back in
the stipulated time.
Sources say, Mahar had decided to
return Shaista to her tribe from day one, but
since the marriage took place in Karachi, where
many human rights and women organisations had
taken up the cause and since his brother is chief
minister, allegedly he himself sent the couple to
either Dubai or Islamabad till matters cooled
down. Now Sardar Ali Gohar Mahar has fulfilled
his promise. The case is a prime example of the
ruthless and brutal feudal tradition.
The grand jirga is due to convene in
couple of days to decide Shaista's fate.
According to reports, Balakh's family has offered
two women from the Mahar tribe and 500,000 rupees
to the Almani tribe as compensation for allowing
Shaista and Balakh to stay married. However, it
seems unlikely that this offer will be
entertained. According to sources, if the state
does not intervene, Shaista will be handed back
to the Almani tribe where initially, her safety
might be guaranteed. But going by past incidents,
Shaista's life will be in jeopardy. Meanwhile, as
far as Balakh is concerned, he can be pardoned
against compensation paid to the Almanis.
In a few days, Shaista will face the
jirga and perhaps yet another innocent life will
be snuffed out.
SUKKUR, Nov 28: Balkhsher Mahar has said that he had divorced Shaista Almani on his own will, foreseeing life threats to her and problems for their families if they continued to remain married.
He said this in a statement before the police here on Tuesday on the eve of Eid.
The police claimed that Shaista was residing in Rahim Yar Khan and the police parties were dispatched to Punjab to recover her.
She is to be produced before the Sukkur bench of the Sindh High Court where the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan's petition, seeking safe recovery of the couple, is being heard.
If Shaista comes up with a statement confirming Mahar's version, the petition may be declared null and void.
The couple had married against the will of the parents of Shaista and left the Ghotki area from where they hail.
Later they were brought back in a mysterious way and Shaista was said to be handed over to a tribal personality. Since then her whereabouts are not known.
Mr Mahar's statement about the divorce is generally seen here as another victory of the tribal forces which, with the help of police and the people in power, manage to undo a marriage solemnized against the tribal tradition.

[ December 19, 2003: Message edited by: Rahul Roy ]
R K Singh
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Joined: Oct 15, 2001
Posts: 5371
You may find similar case in Haryana too


"Thanks to Indian media who has over the period of time swiped out intellectual taste from mass Indian population." - Chetan Parekh
Arjun Shastry
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Joined: Mar 13, 2003
Posts: 1874
I remembered the case 4 years back about one Sikh family in Mumbai.Parents got angry when their daughter ran away and married 'lower cast' Sikh in nearby area.One day mother with her brothers having knives entered groom's house,stabbed the daughter and threw her from 4th floor.


MH
John Smith
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Joined: Oct 08, 2001
Posts: 2937
Parents got angry when their daughter ran away and married 'lower cast' Sikh in nearby area.One day mother with her brothers having knives entered groom's house,stabbed the daughter and threw her from 4th floor.
This doesn't make sense. Why not stab the groom instead? It's one less Sikh, and the daughter may actually find a Brahman. I'll tell ya, the Indians have a serious problem, -- the act like Shiva, but they lack the clarity of Shiva.
R K Singh
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Joined: Oct 15, 2001
Posts: 5371
Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:

This doesn't make sense. Why not stab the groom instead? It's one less Sikh, and the daughter may actually find a Brahman. I'll tell ya, the Indians have a serious problem, -- the act like Shiva, but they lack the clarity of Shiva.

Seems you are very much impressed by Brahmans
AW how much I know Sikh dont have castism. It must be some other reason [love marriage is enough reason ]
Frank Silbermann
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Joined: Jun 06, 2002
Posts: 1385
If not for the Age of Imperialism, wouldn't most of the world still run like this -- based on tribal traditions? Was Rudyard Kipling correct about the obligation to civilize such people or not?
Paul McKenna
Ugly Redneck
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Joined: Jul 08, 2000
Posts: 1006
Originally posted by Capablanca Kepler:
I remembered the case 4 years back about one Sikh family in Mumbai.Parents got angry when their daughter ran away and married 'lower cast' Sikh in nearby area.One day mother with her brothers having knives entered groom's house,stabbed the daughter and threw her from 4th floor.

It is quite possible that the girl married a "poor" groom or like RK Singh mentioned there could be trivial reasons like parents opposition to "love marriage". Fools! thats all I can say about these people..


Commentary From the Sidelines of history
Paul McKenna
Ugly Redneck
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Joined: Jul 08, 2000
Posts: 1006
Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:
If not for the Age of Imperialism, wouldn't most of the world still run like this -- based on tribal traditions? Was Rudyard Kipling correct about the obligation to civilize such people or not?

Hmm.. at face value and if I were to remark on the above statement with the anger I have after reading the posted article then I'd probably say you are right. But considering that western societies have also grappled with the concept of inter-racial marriage the above statement may not be so accurate. After all, people were lynched for merely whistling at a person of the opposite sex and race at one point of time in history.. the west gradually resolved this problem through law and order and I suppose thats what will happen elsewhere as well..
I dont see this as a problem that can be resolved by imperialism. After all the Brits encouraged warfare among the castes as it gave them more control over the country overall.
R K Singh
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Joined: Oct 15, 2001
Posts: 5371
Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:
If not for the Age of Imperialism, wouldn't most of the world still run like this -- based on tribal traditions? Was Rudyard Kipling correct about the obligation to civilize such people or not?

Again as I said earlier "civilise" word is very vague. What could be civilsed for you, for other it could not be civilised.
And second, when I see scientifically [not emotionally] I dont see anything wrong in it.
And who think that caste system is birth base then its wrong, It was partially birth base.
Anonymous
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Joined: Nov 22, 2008
Posts: 18944
Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
This doesn't make sense. Why not stab the groom instead? It's one less Sikh, and the daughter may actually find a Brahman. I'll tell ya, the Indians have a serious problem, -- the act like Shiva, but they lack the clarity of Shiva.

Eugene do you wanna clarify the above statement? You think the world is a better place with one less Sikh? Also, Brahmins must be the best of the lot in your world [Personal attack deleted - Jim]
[ December 19, 2003: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
R K Singh
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Joined: Oct 15, 2001
Posts: 5371
Originally posted by <Funny Man>:
[qb][/qb]

You are wrong.
He even does not know what Sikh and Brahmin means.
[ December 19, 2003: Message edited by: R K Singh ]
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by R K Singh:
And second, when I see scientifically [not emotionally] I dont see anything wrong in it.
Are you saying there is nothing wrong with murdering your children because you don't like their spouse?


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Jim Yingst
Wanderer
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Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
You know, Eugene's post did have a context which made his meaning more apparent. He wasn't saying he thought Sikhs should be killed, but was wondering why the parent didn't think so, given that they were evidently evil enough to murder their own daugher for marrying a Sikh. That's how I understood his post anyway. Asking for clarification here is certainly appropriate; calling someone a racist when you don't understand them is not. Though Eugene could help himself by phrasing things more carefully here, IMO. Anyway, let's try to keep things friendly here. Thanks.


"I'm not back." - Bill Harding, Twister
R K Singh
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Joined: Oct 15, 2001
Posts: 5371
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Are you saying there is nothing wrong

I was talking about castism. Not about the murder.
[ December 19, 2003: Message edited by: R K Singh ]
Rahul Roy
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Joined: Mar 24, 2003
Posts: 50
The price of love
By Imdad Soomro
Balkh Sher Mahar and Shaista Almani's love story has ended in divorce, but as history shows their fate is similar to others who dared to fall in love, writes Imdad Soomro.
Balkh Sher Mahar walked into court with his head bowed and declared: "I've divorced her in order to stop the bloody feud between the two tribes." Those present immediately commented that Mahar cared for tribal values but not for Shaista Almani, the woman he had married for love but was now divorcing. She, they said, had nothing to look forward except death. "This would also be the death of imagination for her," someone in the courtroom was heard saying.
With divorce, has the love the couple felt for each other ended? and is this the conclusion of their love story? Many see their tale as a repetition of other love stories in the Indus Valley, where, when a woman falls in love, she signs her own death warrant. Love is a "crime" which has been committed for centuries.
Soon after Mahar divorced Almani, a discussion opened in the Sindhi press. Mahar reportedly bade farewell to his wife onone foggy morning in Lahore and handed her the papers of divorce. "Mahar is accountable before Shaista and the conscience of Sindh," wrotecolumnist Omer Qazi. "What he did is a lesson for others who want to rebel but it is a lesson of great dismay."
A section of columnists and writers urge that his decision to divorce is a grave defeat of civil society which failed to protect Almani. But Aijaz Mangi glorified Mahar in Ibrat when he wrote, "Mahar would've never done what he did to Almani if the crowd had been sympathetic with him." He criticized feminists accusing them of not knowing the real dangersthat loom in upper Sindh.
To contradict Mangi another columnist, Javed Qazi, came to Almani's defence and said, "Almani proves what Bhittai's heroines had said. The real lover is a woman who is always trapped by a man." He calls Mahar her only enemy. Numeorous editorials and poems have been dedicated to Almani; judges and lawyers recite Romeo and Juliet in the courtrooms. But can she be saved by poems and sympathetic gestures?
It seems that women in this part of the world suffer when they fall in love.
Two-and-a-half centuries ago, the great mystic poet Shah Abdul Lateef Bhittai sang about a woman, named Suhni, who gave her life for her beloved, Mehaar. She had been married but disliked her husband, and had then fallen in love with Mehaar.
According to this folk tale, Suhnicrossed the mighty river Indus to meet Mehaar but she drowned. The dark and bleak nights did not frighten her. On the other hand, Mehaar did not try to contact her and nor did he even cross the river once.
Some people of Sindh consider Suhni to be a kari who deceived her husband but Bhittai wrote verses about her in which he highlighted his deep affection for her. He praised Suhni as she suffered a lot and dared to cross the river. Bhittai had written about the river that, "Darya tu tey danhnn dendias denhn qayam ji" (O, the merciless river, I will stand against you in the hour of judgment).
Bhittai's heroes in his poetry were women. The story of Sassi and Pannu is another folk tale and is a symbol of struggle and darkness. Sassi is said to have climbed the mountains, thirsty and hungry in search of Pannu. Bhittai saw her as the symbol of struggle and sorrows. Sindhi revolutionaries and patriots of the past get courage from Bhittai's poems aboutSassi.
Momal, another character of his poems, burnt herself to prove that she was innocent in her love for Raano who had left her in seclusion.
Bhittai, thus, proves that a woman in the subcontinent is more sincere and sacrificing than a man. "Men are flying-birds", says Abdul Qadir Junejo, a well-known playwright and novelist. "But a woman makes a nest when she falls in love."
In his story Watoon, ratiyoon aien roll (Narrow paths, nights and wanderers) he narrates a tale of a woman's love. "While having no way out, she asked her beloved if he would shoot her if there was no chance of survival."
Junejo has great know how ofsuch cases in upper Sindh, as when he was a child he spent many years with his father who was in the police force. Women are more sincere in love than men, he says.
Fatah Malik, poet and advocate, is of the view that women have greater natural resistance than men, especially in a primitive agriculture society like ours. "A woman has no option, so what you call love is breathing for them," he says.
Although the industrial revolution brought a change in values in the rest of the world, the same did not happen in this part of the world. In Shaista Almani's case Fatah Malik seems inclined to give an opportunity to Mahar. "He's not a deceiver but he's helpless. Perhaps he still deserves a chance."
A year ago, Sonaheri, an 18-year-old girl in Tangvani, left her home at midnight to meet a man, Hakim from the Chachar tribe, in a nearby field. The next day farmers found the girl'sbody. That was the price she paid for daring to love.
Journalist Zahid Noon from Shikarpur narrates the story of a 24-year-old married woman from the Bhutta tribe who, last month, fled to the thick forest to meet a man from the Punhwar tribe, near Rahimabad. "While she was gunned down, her beloved fled and left her at the mercy of murderers," the journalist reported.
Ishaque Mangario, an anthropologist and journalist, wrote on this same phenomenon. "When he was frightened, or unable to meet her, she managed to send a message to him, saying: 'If you are frightened, then give me your kulhari and take my jewelry'."
These forbidden lovers operate in a separate system, using secret signs to communicate messages to one another, be it their feelings or where they are supposed to meet.For example, cardamom indicates fragrance of bliss, kajal means their beloved's eyes are black and beautiful, misri-sweet symbolizes that you are as sweet as a misri flower which shows that one's beloved is so beautiful.
In this way some useblack threads which used to be a sign that one's beloved should be cautious ofa dangerousmove and happening and red threads suggest an uneasy atmosphere which is mostly bad for the loved ones.
Such are the traditions surrounding love.Although such occurrances are slowly changing but these things still exist in remote areas. However, the worst examples of barbarism over minor things have been reported.
This past Eid, four women, two young sisters, a relative and a 10-year-old girl were killed on a charge that one of the two sisters, Anaytaan, received a packet of sweetmeat. As a result, Eid turned into a bloody day in the Ghotki district.
In a tiny village in Aalo Goth in Rahim Yar Khan district, a girl, Shahnaz, spent some hours with a young Hindu boy. As a result she was poisoned along with her relative Basheeran. Unconfirmed reports suggest that they survived but they would now live under great humiliation.
Throughout the ages, the Indus river has received the bodies of numerous women who were unrecognizable. If a passerby saw abody in the canal he would rarely cover her with a chadar. Then, if time allowed him, he would tell irrigation officials or informthe police. This attitude is still there.
Writers and poets have written a lot on the tragedies which occur here every day. Shaikh Ayaz's poetry chronicles "amaan wo moonkhey kari karey marenda /toon ta mookhey bandheni paranee par who moonkhey kari karey marenda" (Mother, they will kill me attributing me a kari, may you clad me up in bandheni [a thari traditional dress] but they'll kill me). Such tragedies, documented by the likes of Noorul Huda Shah, continue today but is this province destined to have tragic love stories for the rest of its life? Who will come along and change the destinies for those who dare to love?
John Smith
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JY: You know, Eugene's post did have a context which made his meaning more apparent. He wasn't saying he thought Sikhs should be killed, but was wondering why the parent didn't think so, given that they were evidently evil enough to murder their own daugher for marrying a Sikh.
Indeed, that's exactly what I meant, thanks Jim. You know, I wish we had more Brahmins here in MD so that I don't have to explain what Kama Sutra means.
Sonny Gill
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Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
Though Eugene could help himself by phrasing things more carefully here, IMO.

aww..if Eugene phrased it more carefully, it would have been less fun to read. Let us ponder on the word 'sarcasm' before we start flinging accusations at people.


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Sonny Gill
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Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:
If not for the Age of Imperialism, wouldn't most of the world still run like this -- based on tribal traditions? Was Rudyard Kipling correct about the obligation to civilize such people or not?

You are treading on a tricky ground here, Frank.
I could start posting examples but if you do a little bit of research you will find enough examples of Imperialists themselves engaging in equally 'uncivilized' actions.
What do you think would have happened if a british woman had married a poor(or even not so poor for that matter) indian man against her parent's wishes during when the British were ruling over India?
(I again had the temptation to look up some known incidents, and post links here...but there is no point...)
Sonny Gill
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Originally posted by R K Singh:

And second, when I see scientifically [not emotionally] I dont see anything wrong in it.

I agree absolutely! There is nothing wrong in it at all (when YOU are the higher cast).
R K Singh
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Originally posted by Sonny Gill:
I agree absolutely! There is nothing wrong in it at all (when YOU are the higher cast).

You missed my this line
And who think that caste system is birth base then its wrong, It was partially birth base.
Sonny Gill
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Joined: Feb 02, 2002
Posts: 1211

he he..I did not miss it Ravish, just decided to go a bit 'uni-dimensional' on an impulse.
Well, whether caste system is right or wrong in theory, would be open to debate IMO. We are not living in the same age as when the caste system was established. Even if there were good reasons for establishing the caste system thousands of years ago, I doubt if any of those would be still valid. Some people also give reasons based on religion, spirituality, and after life etc., whether you think those are justified or not depends on your religious beliefs.
More over, it may or may not have been based on the birth(partially or wholly), but over the years, it has become completely 'based on birth' in practice.
cheers mate.
R K Singh
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Posts: 5371
Originally posted by Sonny Gill:
We are not living in the same age as when the caste system was established.
More over, it may or may not have been based on the birth(partially or wholly), but over the years, it has become completely 'based on birth' in practice.
cheers mate.

You are absolutely right and thats why I keep saying myself to change with time
It is the time we should abandon caste system and good news is that its happening.
Anonymous
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Joined: Nov 22, 2008
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Originally posted by R K Singh:

You are absolutely right and thats why I keep saying myself to change with time
It is the time we should abandon caste system and good news is that its happening.

But time never change it always remain the same
R K Singh
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Joined: Oct 15, 2001
Posts: 5371
Originally posted by <Sameer Jamal>:

But time never change it always remain the same

Its you and me who change.
And its time to change ourselves.
Let the time remain same.
R K Singh
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Joined: Oct 15, 2001
Posts: 5371
Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
You know, I wish we had more Brahmins

I wish I could fulfill your desire but I am Kshatriya.
AW I wonder what does last name in west signifify ??
If its Indian name I can make out lot of things from the last name, like area, religion, caste(obviously ), Gotra, Vansh etc.
What does last name tell in west ??
Axel Janssen
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Joined: Jan 08, 2001
Posts: 2164
Originally posted by R K Singh:

What does last name tell in west ??

German last names tell very little.
There are no upper/lower class last names.
Think one could take that as indicator for more social mobility in European history than in Indian history. From the little I know about India, I think this is fact.
From some names you can sometimes deduce the origin of the fathers branch of the family. My last name is very common in northern west of my country. My father is from there. But its not very good indicator, because in last 150 years there have been more and more regional mobility (transport system, unification 1870).
Name of noblemen are with "von". Noblemen form kind of a warrior "caste", which were build very early in european history. So your caste might be the one with most paralel developments in Europe. But I think that Kshatriya and noblemen have lots of diferences, if one starts to look at the details.
Influence of noblemen diminished since Middle Ages and very significantly since industrial revolution.
There are no priest castes in christian societies.
[ December 20, 2003: Message edited by: Axel Janssen ]
Mapraputa Is
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This is a whole new conversation!
Making a new thread...
Ok, continue here, please.
[ December 20, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]

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