Rape on the Pakistan motorway | Why it happened?

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

I accept that the rape case committed on the motorway near Lahore, Pakistan was merely a sporadic case and can happen anywhere, but it did not happen anywhere else, it occurred in Pakistan, commonly known as the most dangerous place for women and "Women antagonists"!

As Sir Salman Rushdie once said about this place called Pakistan, in an interview on Youtube at Looking at Life on the 7th of November 2003, in his own words, “Pakistan sucks! You cross the border from India to Pakistan; you suddenly feel airlessness, as there is no air to breathe. People are not allowed to say, not allowed to think. Women and men are segregated. There is an explosive AIDS problem, which is not looked at because Muslims don’t get it.”

Salman Rushdie's this interview enjoyable a lot and is worth watching. One of the video bloggers called all Pakistani as zombies. One may wo der how might she have arrived at such depiction of people of that place.

Umar Sheikh (CCPO) questioned "why the woman had taken that route and why she had not checked her fuel tank.”, which was crudely questioned by all walks of life.

Umer sheikh 

Prime Minister, Imran Khan has to say this, “the protection of women was a priority for the government, adding that "such brutality and bestiality cannot be allowed in any civilized society. Such incidents are a violation of our social values and a disgrace to society". Well the "civilized society" is rightfully put into quotes.

On BBC Hindi News, there is this video (a must-see), in which the narrator views are up to the perspective. He is very right when he says that, a woman is a female in her house, for her children, for her husband or maybe for her parents and siblings, outside, she is just a citizen, nothing else!

Tariq Fateh, a well known activist, had always tried to make the world understand the image of Pakistan and what this “word” means, and what are this region’s people all about. But, despite all his efforts, still, the core concept of Pakistan is hard to understand by the people at large, according to him. Watch this video and see how this man is reiterating Tariq Fateh's apprehension of the actual problem.

If one understands and try to visualize the world over there, it becomes overly difficult to apprehend as what is going on in there. It’s a different biosphere out there.

As soon as the news of this rape incident spread on social media, this happened:

It's a bit confusing as what sort of a picture we should get here?

Upon research, it was cleared that this rally was done by one of the most extremist and religious political parties of that country, which wanted to show the general population that the problem is in the attire of the women. As long as women are not dressed "properly" (like the women in the pictures above), this is destined to happen.

Let’s watch this video! One might understand what was meant:

No doubt whatever happened is horrendous, but one may wonder as how many people came out to protest against this incidence? Hundreds or maybe thousands, right? But, when during Charlie Hebdo shooting, nearly 75% of Pakistan was on the road. The whole administration was shut down. The protests went on for weeks; billions of rupees of properties were damaged. The whole world saw it:

SO according to the news, rallies, and the statements coming out from their, it is obvious that putting a rein to the women and asking them to dress “properly”, is the utmost solutions. What is actually shown on TV and what we get about the thoughts from there, it seems that women are considered class three citizens over there.

Unluckily, that woman was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

According to Tariq Fateh tweet, “Gang-raped in Pakistan and then blamed by the police for being responsible for her own rape. How does one country produce so many rectums? How does Pakistan do it?”

While reading on Quora, I came across a very interesting Tariq Fateh's agonist. Some of his views are as under with the link:

“He dreamed about a secular and progressive country and his dream was ruined by the system of Pakistan. In current situation Pakistan neither a Secular state nor a Islamic state its a confused states and hence he actually states that “Pakistan is not a country rather its just a State of mind”, which is actually true because partition was happened on the basis of Islam and after Partition Jinnah Said that (Few people claimed) Pakistan will be a secular sate. If you want to keep Pakistan a secular state why the hell you you had created a line on the basis of Religion and killed millions during partition, big Jock :).”

Upon doing more research, I came across stories like these, which is just the tip of the ice-berg. I think pictures can say a thousand words, but you are open to click on them and read for yourself.

Tariq Ali, who is a British Pakistani military historian, novelist, journalist, filmmaker, public intellectual, political campaigner, activist, and commentator, shares his views on India and Pakistan here. It’s an interesting interview.

According to a research published on Dudley Knox Library, “Religious organizations (ROs) in Pakistan have a socio-economic link with society because these institutions provide public goods and welfare to society. Members of society who benefit from the welfare activities of the ROs become supporters of these institutions. Moreover, some selected ROs in Pakistan have adopted extreme views due to the political and social context in the country. They then use this socio-economic link to indoctrinate citizens with extremist ideologies, thus creating a foundational acceptance of terrorism as a justified activity. Further, this link enables ROs to mobilize society for their interests, such as to pressure the state to gain concessions or compel the state to pass extremist laws. The state responds to ROs because of their influence over a considerable segment of society. At times, the state also needs the ROs to mobilize the population for the state’s interest. Therefore, the state accepts the demands of ROs—including those that require adoption and implementation of extremist laws, which further contribute to extremism.”

It seems like that this is systematic and no one dares do anything against such behavior. People are living in a state of confusion. The self-esteem is at a very low level.  Very few maybe aware of actual problem, and fewer trying to do something for this.

Pakistan's constitution has to be re-deployed 3-times and ironically the laws and codes are still of the colonial era. There are certain laws about which the colonials themselves may be ashamed of and these low self-esteemed people are proudly wearing it. Let’s just have a look at the rape laws for instance:

In Pakistan, the legal recognition of rape as a crime has changed in pace with the dominant narrative on women’s sexuality. The country’s most troublesome categorization of rape was, unfortunately, introduced under the pretext of compliance with the Islamic Law, as part of the so-called Hudood Ordinances of 1979. The Hudood Ordinances introduced ambiguity into the law by putting the criminal act of rape into the same category as fornication and adultery, which is at odds to how most national legislatures categorize the crime rape.”

Th word “Zana” for rape is used still more commonly. Following is taken from a site (link provided):

Each year, hundreds of Pakistani women are killed by relatives angered by behavior they believe has impugned the family’s reputation.

The same source quoted, “Under the new law, relatives of the victim would only be able to pardon the killer if he is sentenced to capital punishment,” Zahid Hamid, the law minister, said on the floor of the National Assembly. “However, the culprit would still face a mandatory life sentence.”

“The Parliament was divided in a debate that lasted hours, with particular opposition from Islamist political parties that insisted the bill must be approved by a clerical panel before being passed. That requirement has been a sticking point in past attempts to enact legal protections for women.”

After watching lots of interviews, shows, and news, most Pakistanis are of the view to put tight reins on women. People are of the view that women should do whatever they are told. They should wear what men decide. They should not go out of the house, higher education is not mandatory, after all, they have to do house chores. Most of the males were approving such a predicament.

An abstract from research published on Emory International Law Review says that “For years in Pakistan, the tragic story began and ended the same for all Pakistani women: with a tragic rape and the victim being brought to shame or murdered for a violation of Islamic law. Pakistan, which had historically based its laws surrounding rape and the punishment for the crime on Islamic beliefs, failed to provide adequate relief for its victims. The Islamic laws were historically biased against women placing a high burden on the victim to support her allegations. Rather than attempting, and possibly failing to prove their allegations, many victims instead hid their shame simply out of fear.”

“The classic story appeared to take a turn in 2006 with the passing of the Protection of Women Act. The media praised the Act as “historic” and described it as a positive move towards secularism. The passing of the law seemed to signify a change in the Islamic culture and finally an avenue for which rape victims could seek relief. However, the implementation of the Act alleged to protect women did much less in the way of women’s rights than the name would suggest.”

“In response, this Comment criticizes the adoption of the new law and disputes the claim that the Protection of Women Act did anything to effectively overturn the Islamic-based ordinances previously put in place to prosecute rape in Pakistan. In particular, this Comment asserts that the new law fails in its implementation to provide any form of relief to victims of rape and instead has been used as a superficial tool to alleviate the negative image associated with the previous strict adherence to Islamic laws. Next, this Comment argues that due to the persistent and ongoing failure of the country to provide relief to rape victims, the women of Pakistan should be able to obtain justice through other means.”

Readers are encouraged to visit this site and read about this review in detail.

As in other countries, the exact number of honor killings is not known. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan lists 460 cases of reported honor killings in 2017, with 194 males and 376 females as victims. Of these killings, 253 were sparked by the disapproval of illicit relations and 73 by the disapproval of marriage choice. Additionally, out of the known suspect relationship with victims, over 93% were family relationships. Although these are most likely only a sample of the actual honor killings that were completed during 2017, it still gives a glimpse into the characteristics of honor killings in Pakistan. Sources disagree as to the exact number by year, but according to Human Rights Watch, NGOs/INGOs in the area estimate that around 1000 honor killings are carried out each year in Pakistan.

It is so easy to get an idea, after studying all this material, that Pakistan is a group of soulless, selfish, and low esteemed, bleak, insensitive, depressing, oblivious, and ignorant people. Most people will argue that Pakistan is changing, but others will differ. They are of the opinion that such change will never happen.. When asked as to why, they believe that "it cannot alter, until the core concepts are dismantled and pull to bits. It will modify when the kids will not be taught or educated the way they are today under the umbrella of centuries-old beliefs and when new laws and regulations will be laid down and when people will think out of the bubble of their so-called “values and culture”. This can happen in a very very distant future, maybe in millennia, but not soon."

According to The Diplomat, “Being a dissident — or even raising a critical voice — in Pakistan is growing more dangerous, regardless of whether the target is political parties, the judiciary or the powerful military and security agencies.

Intimidation of dissidents has increased on multiple fronts, rights workers and journalists say. A number of rights activists have been arrested and charged with sedition. Protesters have been jailed, including a member of parliament. Newspapers and journalists have faced violence, harassment and warnings from security officials not to cover anything .”

“In recent years, the space for dissent in Pakistan has shrunk to the point of suffocation,” warned Omar Warriach, Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia director.

There is this research published by The Initiative for Peacebuilding, which states that “The current state of affairs in Pakistan, characterized by a situation of extreme fragility, where resilience both at the state and societal levels seems reduced to minimal terms, needs to be understood in light of the complex interaction throughout history among various formal and informal factors.

The article was based on research and the literature available on the net, including media and newspaper. People are visiting Pakistan and appreciating its culture and values and highlighting “good” parts of the country, and presenting whatever there is in their vlogs; and the real situation faced by people.

As the British author, Sir Salman Rushdie had said that “he fears that Pakistan is "on the road to tyranny". "Loathing is a bit too affectionate" to describe how he feels about the country.

Sir Salman made the comments in a wide-ranging interview with the BBC World Service to promote his new book, Joseph Anton: A Memoir.

The writer of the novels Midnight's Children said that "the most frightening change" that he saw in Pakistan was that the mass of the people seemed to have given up the "very moderate" religious beliefs that they used to hold.

In a somber tone, Sir Salman said the murder of Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistani Punjab who was killed last year after opposing Pakistan's blasphemy laws, marked a shift in the country.

Mr. Taseer "was murdered for speaking up for an innocent woman, and the country… sided with his killer", he said.

"And this act of defending an innocent woman was thought to be sufficiently un-Islamic that not only should he be killed, but that people should celebrate that he was killed … And that is a sad thing."

So the news continues:

The horrific gang rape of a woman in front of her children on Lahore-Sialkot motorway on Wednesday night has shocked the entire nation and triggered countrywide outrage as questions are being raised over the duplicitous nature of a society where sheer savagery lies lurks behind the veil of piousness and morality and nowhere seems to be safe anymore.

The incident brought Pakistanis out onto the streets on Saturday, Dawn reported. The protests were organized by a group called the Aurat March. The group set forth five demands, including an end to violence, affirmative steps by the government to uphold rights and ensure justice, removal of Lahore Capital City Police Officer Umer Sheikh and any other official who blames the woman, structural and procedural reforms in the laws and effective and transparent investigation.

A petition had been filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC) to form a judicial commission in the case in which the Punjab government, CM Sardar Usman Buzdar, IGP Inam Ghani, and Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Umar Sheikh were made parties. The plaintiff took the stance that Punjab police had completely failed in protecting people. The crime ratio increased due to the negligence and non-professional behavior of the police, the petitioner said while requesting the court to form a judicial commission.

#RemoveCCPOLahore is a hot topic on twitter. One of a very interesting tweet saying that “Mr Prime Minister, with due respect, if u dont want to hire competent people because of certain reasons we don’t understand, ok. We’ll even manage with average, if u feel that works but please, I humbly request, do NOT appoint douchebags in police @ImranKhanPTI  #RemoveCCPOLahore.”

Thank you for reading.


  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wF_Bxzzddnk

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ae1QVI0yvJA&t=815s

  • https://news.yahoo.com/outcry-pakistan-police-blame-woman-160707293.html

  • https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/09/iceberg-pakistan-highway-rape-sparks-outrage-200911133547133.html

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3F3kqBn7ys

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sI3HxaGdrNw

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8jWOoOLXhs

  • https://twitter.com/i/status/1304965374803406850

  • https://www.quora.com/Why-does-Tarek-Fatah-hate-Pakistan-so-much

  • https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/08/05/pakistani-court-sparks-outrage-ruling-14-year-old-christian/

  • https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/29/pakistan-man-accused-blasphemy-shot-dead-courtroom/

  • https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/24/pakistans-largest-province-bans-100-textbooks-blasphemous-content/

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X6oKDvkon0

  • https://calhoun.nps.edu/handle/10945/44606

  • https://www.cmi.no/publications/6323-the-criminalisation-of-rape-in-pakistan

  • https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/07/world/asia/pakistan-toughens-laws-on-rape-and-honor-killings-of-women.html

  • https://law.emory.edu/eilr/content/volume-30/issue-4/comments/duty-faith-pakistani-rape-non-domestic-redress.html

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honour_killing_in_Pakistan#:~:text=The%20Human%20Rights%20Commission%20of,and%20376%20females%20as%20victims.&text=Over%204%2C000%20honour%20killing%20cases,cases%20came%20before%20the%20courts.

  • https://thediplomat.com/2020/03/in-pakistan-criticism-grows-dangerous-as-dissent-is-stifled/

  • https://www.clingendael.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/20090300_cru_pakistan_mezzera.pdf

  • https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-19624100#:~:text=British%20author%20Sir%20Salman%20Rushdie,he%20feels%20about%20the%20country.

  • https://tribune.com.pk/story/2263375/motorway-gang-rape-shocks-nation

  • https://scroll.in/latest/972978/pakistan-15-arrested-for-allegedly-raping-woman-on-motorway-in-lahore-protests-erupt-across-cities

  • https://dunyanews.tv/en/Pakistan/563678-Motorway-rape-case-Accused-Waqar-police

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