A trial for murder

December 17, 2023

The majority opinion seems to be that justice has been served in the Sarah Inam murder case

A trial for murder


he trial court’s announcement of its verdict in the Sarah Inam murder case this week triggered a range of emotions and responses from the public.

The case had attracted widespread attention due to its high-profile nature and was closely followed by many people from across the country. As the judgment was announced on Thursday, citizens expressed a mix of relief, disappointment and calls for justice.

The verdict in Sarah Inam murder case, which was earlier reserves, was announced by District and Sessions Judge Nasir Javed Rana. He sentenced Shahnawaz Amir, the principal accused, to death and imposed a fine of Rs 1 million on him. The money would be paid to the bereaved family. Sarah’s parents and Shaukat Mukaddam, father of Noor Mukaddam, among others were present in the packed courtroom. The court acquitted Shahnawaz’s mother, Samina Shah, a co-accused in the case.

According to the prosecution, Sarah, a Canadian citizen, was murdered by her husband, Shahnawaz, the son of journalist Ayaz Amir, in Islamabad in September last year. Remembered as a vibrant, energetic, lively and intelligent person by those who had interacted with her, Sarah was reportedly killed a day after she arrived in the country from Dubai where she had been working.

Talking to the media, Sarah’s father, Inam-ur Rahim, sexpressed satisfaction with the sentence. He also demanded that Shahnawaz’s mother, Samina Shah, too, be punished. He said that they he hadn’t withdrawn his complaint against her under Section 109 (punishment for abatement) of the Pakistan Penal Code. Rahim also said the Noor Mukaddam case appeal was pending in the Supreme Court and urged the chief justice to take notice of the matter.

Soon after the decision was announced, social media platforms became a hub for immediate reactions with hashtags related to the case trending within minutes of the announcement. Users expressed their opinions, shared their relief or dissatisfaction and engaged in discussions about the intricacies of the legal process.

For many, the verdict had brought a sense of relief and closure, especially for the family and friends of Sarah Inam. “I’m saddened to the core that such a wonderful person became a victim. However, justice has been served. I admire her family for their strength and resolution in pursuing the case. May Allah grant them a sense of peace,” Steve Manuel, a former colleague of Sarah’s, told The News on Sunday.

Recalling the moment he had received the news of Sarah’s death, Manuel said, “It came as an earth-shattering shock to me. My first reaction was that, this couldn’t be true. Not someone like Sarah Inam. I think of the Sarah Inam I knew, the ever-smiling, friendly girl who knew so many things.”

Sarah’s father Inam-ur Rahim expressed satisfaction with the conviction and sentence of the principal accused. He demanded that Shahnawaz’s mother, Samina Shah, too, be punished. 

Social media accounts created by general public to campaign for justice in Sarah’s case carried many comments. Ahmed Bilal expressed hope in one of his comment that the decision might save other Sarahs. Rida Rehmani wished that the verdict should bring some comfort to Sarah’s family.

However, not everyone was satisfied with the court’s decision. Some members of the public expressed disappointment, citing concerns about the quality of evidence presented during the trial or questioning the fairness of the judicial process. Some said that the justice should also be ‘seen’ to be served.

On another social media account, Ali Rizwan said that he would be satisfied the sentence was carried out. “The convict in Noor Mukaddam’s case has still not been hanged,” he noted. Many other social media users also mentioned the Noor case, saying it has been pending in Supreme Court since April.

Talking to TNS, Aurat Foundation CEO Naeem Ahmed Mirza said that justice had been done, but it had taken almost 15 months to decide an open and shut case. “It is often said that justice delayed is justice denied. Delayed justice and absence of justice are big reasons behind the increasing incidents of violence against women and girls.”

“When cases of physical abuse, including murder, are prolonged or the convicts get reprieve after conviction, the potential perpetrators of similar crimes are emboldened and the society fails to see the gravity of situation and its traumatic effects. This turns into a vicious cycle. It is, therefore, necessary that cases that tend to traumatise the entire society should be dealt with a sense of priority and an invincible commitment to the cause of justice,” said Mirza.

Human rights defender Tahira Abdullah said that justice had been served. “Of course, under the rule of law, the convict has the right of appeal.”

She said the conviction could not bring back the victims but a guilty verdict in a high profile cases could be a deterrent.

“However, seeing the raging femicide epidemic in Pakistan… one cannot be too hopeful, sadly,” she said.

The writer is a reporter for The News International

A trial for murder