Anwar Hashmi /
Rifat Mushtaq Koukab
Man is conquering the world.
He is near to erect his flag on the peak of the discoveries
pillar but ironically he had lost his conscious in the
dark dirty caves. In this modern and civilized world some
incidents proves that we are still living in cave age
or before. The most ferrous thing is this many and more
NGOs with the name of human rights and women rights have
their vast networking through out the world. What happened?
Problems get stronger then ever. No relief neither healing
nor any satisfaction for the victims.NGOs just pinpoint
the problems, raise the funds and left the wound without
Such a horrible and terrible incident flashed on national
&international media and fists the hearts. Eight innocent
girls have been married as “Vani”in Mianwali
one of them is just one and half year old. Women are being
molested in Pakistan with the name of cultural devices.
Before Dec2002 ‘karokari’ or ‘kala kali’,
‘honour killing’, “Nikah” with
Quran”, “watasata” were the critical
HRCP and different NGOS were working to abolish this inhuman
and stupid custom. That were creating serious disorder
in the society and definitely spoiling women life. Initially
these customs were the part of tribal areas and interior
Sindh.where still women are taken as the property of men
and they can treat them as they wish. Irony of fate Pakistan
who was already black listed for human rights now the
incidents in Meer wala and Mianwali have brought shame
to Pakistan and hit world headlines.’Vani’
has become as a social norm in Mianwali and neighbouring
areas. According to this tradition women are given in
‘Nikah’ to resolve different kinds of disputes.
These marriages are known as ‘Vani’, ‘Sakh’,
‘Sawara’ and ‘Sharam’with the
difference of languages in different areas.
Tradition of Vani is an old age tradition. This cruel
unislamic inhuman tradition started almost 400 years ago
when two ‘Pathan’ tribes of Mianwali fought
a bloody war against each other. During this bloody period
round about 800 people were murdered. At that time NAWAB
OF TANK tried to resolve this tension. He called the “GIRGA”
who decided that girls are given as QISAS. They considered
it the only way to resolve this dispute and both families
turned into a Biradri.
Later on this decision became a custom which passed over
generation to generation. Another major example of ‘Vani’
took place after four decades in 1964.When Mr& Mrs.
Rustam Khan of Shahba wala. Jirga on the will of victim
party demanded 40 proposals for their males in the compensation.
Convict admit their decision just to save murders as they
were the sons of family. At the time of reconciliation
successor demanded for only 20 girls leaving other 20
for family marriages. But at that time these 20 girls
were given into Nikah to young boys and sent with them.
With the passage of four decades this tradition has became
an evil of the society. This inhuman tradition is practised
in different areas of Sindh, Baluchistan and Sarhad and
known with the difference of names. In these areas it
called as Sawara which is arrived from the Persian language
it stands of or women one the worse back travelling alone
to the enemy camp. In these areas women are commonly being
used as a bargain commodity to compensate capital offences
or homicide crimes done by their family members. But this
inhuman custom can be observed in its intense form in
Punjab especially in Mianwali with the name of ‘Vani’.
‘Vani’ is a Pashto word derived from vanay
which stands for blood. This inhuman and horrible custom
was very common in Pashtoon families. Like other traditions
the genesis of this custom is also obscure but it can
safely be assumed that it developed as a gesture of good
will to end blood feuds.
When compromise is sought between two belligerent tribes
this tradition is followed so as to avoid further bloodshed.
Usually vani is affected in the cases of murder and kidnapping
of womenfolk. When murder or kidnapping of a girl comes
up before a jirga for a solution, the jirga indicts the
offender and announces punishment. In a murder case, punishments
are either revenge i.e. blood for blood or blood money
The nearest virgin girl daughter, sister, etc. of the
offender is given over to the aggrieved family. When deciding
the conditions of vani a number of factors are taken into
account, including the number of murders and length of
the disputes between the two families, as well as the
power balance between them. Since it is a forced marriage
between the enemies, there is no wedding ceremony. The
girl is made to ride a donkey, pony or horse and third
party drives that animal to the other side.
The receiving family takes over the girl as a punishment
to the enemy. But the main sufferer in such a case is
the vani. In tribal society, the woman is placed in a
strange position. She is considered property of man. The
marriage is arranged for a price of the bride called walwar.
In case of vani, the affected family loses promising amount
of money. Therefore, it is considered a severe punishment.
Unfortunately, the main sufferer is the innocent and voiceless
girl. Mianwali district is regarded as a strange land
where cruel barbaric system is still being followed. Not
only grown up women infant girls but also expect girls
are being frequently handed over to rivals for the compensation
of crimes done by their fathers and mothers.
This district earned a world wide condemnation when four
convicts, in order to save their necks from the gallows,
gave away their eight girls as Vani to the rival family.
These girls were trapped emotionally to slaughter their
lives for their fathers and brothers. No one bothered
to take their opinion. They were just informally informed.
These oppressed women have not any option. If some one
dares to disobey the decision, she was tortured mentally
When these women are being married there was a scene of
mourn. These silent victims of male oppression handed
over to the victims. These poor women slaughter their
wishes and their whole life for the sack of their selfish
so called ‘Gharate maand’ (respect full) male
family members. Who at the time of crime shows their Man
chauvinism without thinking about their poor sisters and
daughters? Victim of vani faced the anger of revenge and
abuses till the death. Their lives become like a fish
out of water.
This is the 21st century, developed, civilized, educated
and sophisticated where a lot of people still behaved
as a cave or wild man. They disgraced woman and considered
them as a commodity by snatching their basic rights. There
are hundreds of Vani stories over here which were never
published in press. But a major incident of eight vani
girls attracted whole world’s attention. These girls
were given as Vani in the compensation of crimes.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday took notice of the reported
compromise between two parties in Mianwali about the pardoning
of four convicts, and directed the session’s judge
to submit a report in this regard within three days. Chief
Justice Sheikh Riaz Ahmad, in his order, ruled: "The
compromise deal as reported in the press, prima facie,
appears to have been reached in violation of the law of
the land and against the norms of the civilized world".
The chief justice took the suo motu notice after reading
a news item in Dawn's issue of July 24 headlined "Girls
& gold save four from gallows". The report said
the family of Sardar Khan, Mohammad Akram Khan, Mohammad
Ashraf Khan and Asmatullah Khan, who were awarded death
in a double murder case by the session’s judge of
Mianwali, had struck a deal.
It said that after the rejection of the appeals by the
superior courts, and the mercy petition of the convicts
by the president of Pakistan, the parties entered into
a compromise deal with the help of prominent people of
the area, like Malik Asad of Kalabagh, whereby the accused
party agreed to pay Rs8 million as compensation, besides
giving the hands of eight unmarried girls
to the men of the complainant side.
The Chief Justice directed the office to register it as
a suo motu case and called report from the session’s
judge of Mianwali within three days. Reuters adds: The
apex court, in a statement, told the police to investigate
the deal. Both parties came to the court with eighth vani
girls and look one of them was just one and half years
old Azra was sleeping in his father’s lape.unconcious
from his fate this poor girl was looking at huge gathering
around her. The 18-year-old student, one of the six girls
of Abbakhel village rescued by the administration from
the age-old 'vani' tradition, demanded to eradicate social
Talking to provincial law minister Rana Ijaz Ahmad, Waziraan
Khatoon, the F.A student, said she had agreed to marry
Ata Muhammad, nearly 80, just to save the life of her
father and other accused. Hailing the role of the government,
she said the Punjab governor had intervened timely and
set precedence by saving the girls from becoming scapegoats.
The girl was all praise for the press which, she said,
played its best role in giving the issue its due. The
girl requested the minister to help reduce the Diyat of
Rs8 million as the family had become poor after selling
their lands and valuables. The law minister expressed
his inability to resolve the monetary strife, claiming
the matter had already been settled. When contacted, the
girl's mother Sardaran Khatoon, lying on bed due to paralysis,
told this correspondent that she was elated at seeing
her daughter rescued. She said she made the decision with
a heavy heart only to save lives of her husband and others.
"After all, no mother could take such a decision
willingly," said the relieved mother.
Meanwhile, the Abbakhel village, some 12km from here on
the Mianwali-Talagang Road, wore a happy look on that
day. The government high-ups, rights activists and newsmen
came in hordes and smelt an air of relief. Later talking
to newsmen, the law minister said the government was mulling
over making a law for the eradication of the 'Vani' tradition.
Grooms, Ata Mohammad Khan, 80, and Mehr Khan, 55, were
found missing when the newsmen tried to take their version.
One of the convict brothers, whose two minor daughters,
Iqra and Ifra, were among the girls to be handed over
as compensation told, "Although, I dislike the tradition,
I took the decision to save my dear ones.
Complainant Abdullah Khan, son of slain Noor Khan, told
, that he had confirmed the pardon of the four accused
after getting Rs8 million Diyat. He said his camp had
forgiven the six girls. To a question, he said his uncle
Ata Muhammad Khan was a 'strict man' and he made such
demands (for girls) to make life tough for the arbitrators.
On the accused party's request, he claimed they accepted
Rs8 million and 12 girls as 'Vani.' He claimed he forgave
his share of six girls but his uncle insisted on getting
girls. On the demand and then getting high compensation
which is against the tradition of the area, he claimed
they had done all to uproot the old enmity and to become
He said he had become penniless after spending Rs5 to
6 million for the murder case pending with the court for
the last 18 years, adding the compensation money would
come in handy for him in the hour of trial, he claimed.
On the barbaric tradition, Abdullah said it had turned
a number of rivalries into blood relations. He claimed
the marriage of two girls was a mismatch. However, he
said the chapter was now closed once and for all. A majority
of the people in the village called for a permanent end
to the tradition. Law Minister announced for the legislation
against this cruel tradition but this was just a political
slogan. People of Mianwali and the administration forget.
Govt of Punjab also put this file in their cabinets.
After some days another graduate girl was married as Vani
with 70 years old Rahri Ban. But she denied being the
victim of Vani so her parents have to pay 3 lacks and
she was divorced.
Another case of Vani was appeared in Chandni Wanphajran.
Only six years old girl was given as Vani in Hadood Ordinance
Case. But the press exposed this inhuman and unjust practice
and forced the both the parties to with draw.
National judicial policy making committee called upon
a panel of judges and decided to take speedy and strict
action against this inhuman custom. But the Vani cases
are frequently occurring in the area.
Soon after the meeting of ‘Judicial policy making
committee’ two sisters were slaughters under ‘Vani’in
Tolamangi kalabagh.Jahangir khan raped a girl Naseem Bibi
who get pragnent.The Parents of the girls called Panchayt
of respected people of the area. In that panchayt it was
decided that the victim girl got married with jhangir.And
his two sisters Noor shah Bibi (17year old) and Samiara
Bibi (8 years old) were given to Naseem Bibi’s Brothers
Nazar deen (20years old) and Mohammed Amjad Khan (10 years
old) with 60 thousands Rs. Both the girls denied being
the victim of ‘Vani’. But they were handed
over according to the decision.
Mianwali is an area which badly known as ‘the place
of crimes against women’. On the 6th of June 18,
2004 seven years old girl slaughter as ‘Vani’.
Panchayate handed over parveen daughter of Ather khan
of Daud Khail as her 10 year old brother was the accused
of illicit act with 7 years old Kafyet ullah. According
to the decision of Panchayt a student of Jamia Masjid
Anwar ul Quran held “shrie’ Nikah” of
7 years old parveen and 10 years old Kafyet ullah. Prveen’s
father begged for her daughter’s life. He repeatedly
visits to Ziaullah to say sorry with the Quran in his
hand. He also offered 1’ lack and 1 and half canal
land but Zia ullah behaved in a very cruel manner.
In chahmiana two sisters were grew older being ‘Vani’.
It was the example of man chauvinism that these girls
were given in ‘Nikah of two 60 and 70 years old
men. But they refused to take these girls with them because
of the age of both men. At this time Allah Wadya is 70
years old whether his wife is 35 years old and still in
her parents home. While 15 years old wilayat Khtoon got
freedom after the death of 70 years old Muhammed Zaman.Both
the sisters are paying the price of their brother’s
crimes. These poor girls are waiting for another Muhammed
bin Qasim which looks very difficult in this senseless
and selfish society.
Three other major cases of vani came into the notice of
Governor Punjab, Chief Minister and the chief justice
Lahore high court by Karwan community development organization
director in a faxed massage .they demanded probe into
following cases. In the first case, one Kausar Parveen,
20, of village daliliwala in spite of her huge cries is
being handed over to her rivals as ‘vani’
against her will. She was four years old when she was
married to a boy of the rival family as compensation for
the murder committed by her father. After sixteen years
of her education she refused to be the second wife of
her shepherd husband.
On the appeal of Kausar parveen the government helped
her only to extent that that she was recovered .Her statement
was recorded by the court and her parents were advised
to file a suit for the cancellation of the ‘Nikah’.The
case was not filed but ,a local panchyat decided to hand
over the girl to her child hood spouse. In the second
case, a panchyat at Dauad khail decided that a 9 years
old girl be married to the younger brother of the victim
of someday committed by her brother. In the third incident,
Aslam Khan a resident of Daud khel brought a young girl
from a Pashto speaking family living in hilly areas of
Shaker dara after solemnizing ‘Nikah’ with
her. But later on he handed over the girl to a deaf dumb
and blind man for 70,000.thgese are the cases under the
consideration of the administration but there is no any
positive action has been taken out.
Another terrible incident of ‘Vani’, of two
sisters was stopped by the press. The so-called husbands,
Shafa ullah and Zia ullah on Thursday June divorced their
wives in the court.14 years old Rehana and 16 years old
Rukhsana were married with these two brothers. Shafa ullah
alleged in panchayet decision that Mumtaz, the only brothers
of two sisters, had developed illicit relation with her
The police with the help of news reporters got their recorded
statements .and an NGO filed a suit in the civil court
for the cancellations of the ‘Nikah’.But before
the decision of the court the Nazim intervene and husband
lastly divorced the girls. Similar cases are frequently
occurring in the Area. Our politicians, including ministers,
keep on issuing statements that a stringent law would
be introduced to curb this gruesome practice. But it is
pity that law has been so far been craved out to eliminate
this custom from this soil. The most reluctant example
is that Bill which was presented in the national Assembly
by the Mehnaz Rafi M.N.A.
But that bill is still facing ignorance in the Assembly
where a big majority of women are representing women.
Ironically Prime Minister Mir Zafer ullah jamali said
in a meeting with women that he wants to modify Hadood
Ordinance and the law of ‘Honor killing’ but
he is still ignoring the ‘vani cases’. Which
is urgently needed a law. Like many other traditions and
cultures all over the world, the Vani tradition also could
hardly stand the test of time. It gave way to corrupt
practices and was massively misused by the people with
Much of the good claimed in this tradition was lost. Its
rare application was turned into a fashion of the day
and in each and every murder case Vani was being applied
which consequently made it a horrible practice of violation
of rights of innocent women. So much so that the newly-born
baby girls were being sacrificed at the altar of Vani
to save some grown-ups of the tribe from the murderous
onslaught of the other tribesmen who were adept at wreaking
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.
Gone are the days when irrational cultural traditions
used to sway the lives of innocent and illiterate common
people. \medieval social psychology has been rendered
obsolete. Rationality is the order of the day of the present
world. Men living on this planet are today more aware
of their rights and duties. Democratic norms have brought
about a revolution in the social psyche of the people.
Women have attained a respectable place altogether with
greater awareness of their position and potentialities.
They are no more treated as cattle or a commodity to be
bargained. In the backdrop of this modern outlook, all
those sticking to the irrational old cultures and traditions
would find themselves at a loss while competing with the
modern world. The modern man will always look askance
at those who sacrifice their women under the garb of Vani
to save men from the vengeance of the enemy.
Giving women as Vani for marriage purposes to the enemy
to pacify vengeance of the enemy so that the enemy may
forgive the murder of its dear one is also against the
teachings of Islam. Islam categorically forbids all marriages
made under any kind of compulsion. The Holy Prophet (PBUH)
has at many instances dissolved such marriages. These
marriages were known as ‘Sabaya’ in the days
of Jahiliya (ignorance). To sum up, today the custom of
Vani is doing no good but casting aspersions on the noble
and dignified heritage of the Pushtoon culture, which
denotes courage, honour, hospitality and peaceful coexistence.
of National judicial policy making committee
National judicial policy making committee held a meeting
in which they announced that ‘bargain over women
in the case of compromises under Vani is against Islamic
values. Chief justice of Pakistan Sh.Riaz Ahmed presided
over the meeting which was held 21st Dec 2002.Justice
Fazal elahi Khan, chief justice Federal sharai court,
justice Raja fiaz Ahmed, Chief justice Baluchistan high
court Justice Iftikhar Hussain chudri, Chief justice Lahore
high court justice shakir ullah Jan chief justice Peshawar
High court, Justice Sabih ud din senior judge Sindh High
court and committee secretary Dr.Faqir Hussain participated
in the Panel. They noticed the ‘Vani’ and
announced this is entirely against Islamic Laws because
a marriage demands the will of both sides. Committee announced
that section 310and 338e (Pakistan panel code) is against
the bargaining of women to reconcile the dispute especially
such a woman who was giving under a compromise. Panel
bound all chief justices are bound to issued notice to
all ‘Trial courts’ and ‘Appealet courts’
to strictly noticed Vani cases. They are not allowed to
make any compromise in this course so that women should
be saving to be given as ‘Vani’.
Seeking Shelter behind
Obvious outcomes of such Jirgas are people who have even
played with someone‘s honour are acquitted by virtue
of ‘Vani’. The culprit unable to face the
consequences of his misdeed valiantly tries to seek shelter
behind his sister or daughter. Thus, undeserving members
of Jirga sacrifice an innocent girl using ‘Vani’
to save the culprit. Here ‘Vani’ no longer
remains a tradition, but becomes a disgrace to Pushtoon
Law and Sawara and Vani: Universal
Declaration of Human Rights
Article 1: “All human beings are
born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed
with reason and conscience and should act towards one
another in a spirit of brotherhood”.
The practice of Swara is in direct conflict with the Article
1 of UDHR, which regards all human being free by birth
and equal in dignity and rights. Moreover, Swara disregards
an individual’s ability to reason as Swara girls
are given over to the rival party without seeking her
consent. Thus it is morally binding upon all the individuals
to give due respect to UDHR. As far as Swara is concerned
it is totally contrary to the norms of UDHR.
Men and women of full age without any limitation due to
race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry
and to form a family. They are entitled to equal rights
as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
“Marriage shall be entered into only with the free
and full consent of the intending spouses”.
The Article 16 of UDHR grants the right of marrying by
one’s won choice to each and every individual (i.e.
man and woman both) without any discrimination of race,
nationality and religion. Whereas in Swara, neither the
man’s nor the women’s consent is asked for
the purpose of marriage. Both of them are victims. The
man has to accept her to end the existing enmity. So is
the case with the women. More agonizing is the fact that
these ill-fated individuals cannot dissolve their marriage
in any case, whether they are living together or not.
In this regard the true story of Feroz Khan included in
this research thesis is a very good example.
on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against
States parties shall take all appropriate measures to
eliminate discrimination against woman in all matters
relating to marriage and family relations and in particular
shall ensure, on a basis of equally of men and women:
1- The same right to enter into marriage;
2- The same right freely to choose a
spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free
and full consent;
3- The same right and responsibilities
during marriage and its dissolution;
Pakistan is a party to the CEDAW which categorically states
that consent of individuals is obligatory of the marriage
purpose. [Ref Article 16, Sub clause (a), (b), (c)]. It
is pertinent to mention that the consent of the individual
should be “full and free” as stated in sub-clause
(b) of Article 16. But pathetically there is no concept
of consent or individual’s will in the Swara practice.
In many cases, the girl to be given over is a minor, which
is a gross violation of fundamental HRs.
Rights and Vani’s Practice
This is concept of ‘Vani’ nowadays is criticized
by the human rights activists, calling it a brutal practice
targeted against the women of the ‘Pushtoon’
society. The women rights activists are of the opinion
that practice of ‘Vani’ could be misused,
and always the behaviour of the aggrieved family with
the girl of the killer family remains harsh. Therefore,
the Human Rights activists oppose ‘Vani’.
‘Vani’ is an inhuman custom that violates
the fundamental human rights of women Defended on the
premise that it is a way of resolving disputes, ‘Vani’
means giving a woman to an enemy’s family as part
of settlement of a feud. It often involves extreme cruelty
towards women, treating them as a property that is used
to settle disputes.
The practice of ‘Vani’ is being increasingly
regarded as unacceptable to most of the communities, perhaps
recognizing the cruelty involved thereof. ‘Vani’
is steadily being replaced by settlements paid in cash