- The gruesome murder in Islamabad, allegedly by Zahir Zamir Jaffer, an American citizen and acquaintance of the victim, is sadly not an isolated incident.
On July 20, just one day before Eid-ul-Adha, a harrowing murder took place in Islamabad, Pakistan, where the victim was not only killed but also decapitated after the murder. Noor Mukadam, a 27-year old female, was allegedly killed by her close acquaintance Zahir Zamir Jaffer at his residence in Sector F-7/4, Islamabad.
Jaffer was arrested at the crime scene with a knife, pistol, and a knuckle duster that he used for his heinous act against the victim. According to the recently secured video evidence, the victim suffered physical violence for about three hours before she was killed. The case had been registered under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code against Jaffer following the arrest at the Kohsar Police Station.
Noor Mukadam was the daughter of an ex-Pakistani diplomat Shaukat Mukadam, who has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to South Korea and Kazakhstan. Mourning the loss of his beloved daughter, Shaukat Mukadam is seeking maximum punishment under the Pakistani law against Jaffer for his brutality.
Jaffer belongs to an elite family from Islamabad with businesses in different sectors like agriculture and technology. Jaffer himself is known to be a certified psychotherapist from TherapyWorks, where he conducted sessions with children. However, TherapyWorks denied their association with Jaffer as an authorized therapist following the murder.
Is Justice Being Served?
Jaffer was initially arrested on a three-day physical remand, which was then extended for two more days by a district and sessions court in Islamabad. In his last hearing on July 26, Jaffer reported to the court that his life was under threat. The accused is also a U.S. citizen, therefore his name has been placed on the Exit Control List as well as the PNIL (Provisional National Identification List) and blacklist by the authorities to prevent his attempts of fleeing from the court and/or the country.
Four other suspects, including Jaffer’s parents and two domestic aides, have also been arrested on remand on the charges of hiding the evidence and being complicit in the crime.
While the murder terrifies the nation to the core for all the right reasons, it is sadly not an isolated incident, as the people of Pakistan have already been enraged by the recent wave of femicide in the country.
On July 3, Bushra Raza was killed by her husband, Raza Ali, after he opened fire on her and her children, leaving daughter Saima Ali and other children severely injured. On July 15, Quratulain Baloch Ainy, a mother of four, was tortured and killed by her husband Umar Khalid Memon in Hyderabad.
Twitter trends in Pakistan with hashtags like #JusticeForNoor #JusticeForSaima and #JusticeForQuratulain in the past few weeks reveal the haunting picture of the state’s stance on violence against women.
The long-overdue Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill 2021, which was passed by the National Assembly earlier in April, has been awaiting its passage from the standing committee ever since, as it was referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) for further review.
Moreover, the Prime Minister’s infamous remarks in a recent HBO interview, where he blamed women’s clothing for the rise in gender-based violence in Pakistan, have also added fuel to the already blazing fire of misogyny in the country.
Many activists see this recent spike in gender-based violence and murders as a direct result of the victim-blaming mentality of Prime Minister Imran Khan. As a result, thousands of frustrated people, especially women, are bringing their rage and collective trauma to social media, signing petitions, raising their voices, and creating a movement in an effort to hold the government accountable for its lack of attention towards the culture of impunity.
Sehrish Rashid, originally from Karachi, Pakistan, is a Philadelphia-based writer who is currently pursuing her graduate degree in Public Health. A single mother of two, Sehrish is passionate about youth, women, and LGBT health issues, and hopes to change narratives through empathy and consistency.