LONDON: A brave Lahore law student who was stabbed 23 times in daylight is returning to Pakistan after taking leave from her law college here after Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa fixed her case for hearing on January 23 (tomorrow) before a 3-member bench, headed by the chief justice himself.
Khadija Siddiqi, 24, was stabbed over two dozen times on a busy Lahore street in May 2016 as she collected her six-year-old sister Sofia Siddiqui from school. She was attacked by her class fellow Shah Hussain who didn’t like the fact that Khadija Siddiqi refused to acknowledge his moves and stopped talking. Later she was blackmailed and threatened by the perpetrator but she ignored it thinking it would soon pass. Little did she know that he driven by so-called honour and revenge, slashed her multiple times in an attempt to kill her, another stab was also given to her younger sister when she yelled in pain trying to save her elder sister from repeated being stabbed.
On Monday evening, Khadija Siddiqi left from Heathrow airport for Islamabad to attend the hearing in person and once again took leave from her studies. Now a student of bar-at-law at the City Law University, she spoke to this correspondent ahead of her departure.
She said: “I am hopeful as this case serves as a beacon of hope for women all across Pakistan. I am glad that the newly sworn in Chief Justice fixed my case for hearing. My morale was a bit down since my case had not been heard since the last suo motu hearing in June 2018. My hope has become alive again, having complete faith in our judiciary. I sincerely hope justice will be served, because during this entire struggle the truth has indeed prevailed. It is imperative that for the sanctity of law and deterrence perpetrators receive their due punishment. It’s a test case and it’s important that for the future of violence against women cases in Pakistan, this case serves as the landmark one. Justice ought to be done not because I suffered at the hands of the perpetrator but because if such a crime goes unpunished. The hopes of all those looking up to this case will shatter. I have an example by manifesting courage and facing all sorts of insidious desperate allegations to coerce me to give up, this struggle will therefore continue. Thousands of cases like these go down the drain because majority do not have recourse to justice or are silenced before they even try. It’s not only my struggle. It’s struggle of the whole society. I decided to take a stand for myself and for everyone else who believes in law and justice. ”
She recalled the horror she was put through when Shah Hussain attacked her with a knife when she had made her sister board the car and was about to do, it happened outside Ambassador’s Hotel in Lahore. “There was a push from behind and then the first slash and then the stabbing dint stop until my driver intervened. I thought it was over and I had no chance of survival. I read Kalma and resigned while I was being stabbed repeatedly. It’s a miracle I am alive and fighting for justice. The attacker didn’t even spare my baby sister. If such beasts are allowed to run rampage in the society, we will only end up as a lawless society.”
Khadija Siddiqi struggled to highlight her case but the system failed her until her case captured imagination of the nation. “I am so much thankful to Shahzeb Khanzada and Geo News for highlighting my case. Shahzeb through his programme became my voice, my family’s voice and spoke out for justice. Civil society activist and lawyers Jibran Nasir and Hasan Niazi did all they can to support me and campaigned for my case. Tehmina Durrani provided much needed moral support and then so many people joined voices, all these voices created this into a movement and I am thankful to all of them for providing support in every possible way.”
When attacked and nearly killed, Khadiq Siddiqi was in the second year of her law degree. She passed her exams while running in between the hospital, her law college and courts in the next two years, until she finally graduated in this August 2018. She came to the UK in September last year to study bar-at-law. She plans to return to Pakistan after finishing her studies to help victims of injustice.
“I spent a lot of time struggling to get justice in Pakistan and realised through my own experience that there is a mafia culture in Pakistan. I plan to return to Pakistan and help others gain a voice through legal assistance. We cannot allow injustice to continue permeating in the society as it is, something has to be done about it,” said Khaidja Siddiqi.
She hopes that she will be able to return to London after a week to resume her studies. “I am taking time off from my classes and will be missing important lessons and assignments,” said Khadija about her law school.
A Lahore judicial magistrate handed down seven-year rigorous imprisonment to Shah Hussain after finding him guilty of attempted murder on July 29, 2017. However, a sessions court in March 2018 set aside the minor penalties of the convict and commuted the sentenced to five years. Last year, the Lahore High Court acquitted the convict on the basis of insufficient evidence.
Former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar took notice of the acquittal back in June 2018 through a suo motu. Newly sworn in Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa has now listed the Khadija Siddiqi stabbing case for January 23 when he will hear the appeal against the LHC’s decision to acquit the accused in the case. The former CJP, as the head of a two-member bench, had forwarded the appeal to another two-member Supreme Court bench led by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa.