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Monday, December 6, 2021

Noor Mukadam: Does she need to seek justice in the court of God?

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Amjad Mehmood

Islamabad:—On 20th July 2021, an innocent 27 years old Noor Mukadam, daughter of a former Pakistani diplomat, Shaukat Muakdam was found dead at her friend’s house, Zahir Jaffer, a U.S. national and heir of the Jaffer Group of Companies in F-7 sector of Islamabad. The incident was reported in mainstream media and engulfed the social media for a month but it seems like many other incidents in Pakistan, this case is being dumped in gloom.

Noor’s beheaded body was found by Kohsar Police Station of Islamabad at Zahir’s residence and arrested him as prime suspect of the murder. According to the police report, Zahir was arrested on the spot with clothes having blood all over and he allegedly held Noor hostage for two days before murdering her brutally.  The police launched an FIR against him on the complaint of Noor’s father and within no time of reporting of the incident, #JusticeForNoor was a top trend on social media in Pakistan. Political leaders, civil society and showbiz stars expressed solidarity with Noor’s family and showed their grief and anger against Zahir Jaffer for his crime. Inspector General of Islamabad Police visited the murder site with other senior police officials and formed a special investigation team comprising SSP investigation, SP City, and ASP Kohsar.

Noor’s friends later publically claimed that Zahir Jaffer had the history of violent behavior and once deported from UK on similar charges including a rape case. Prime Minister Imran Khan took the notice of Noor’s murder and directed the Islamabad Police chief that investigate the case on merit to ensure that no relaxation is granted to accused.

Therapy Works employees were first to reach at the murder site and apparently they also assisted influential Zahir rather to follow the requisite legal course of action. Even they refrained from registering a police complaint against Zahir Jaffer who injured a Therapy works’ employee and reported the incident as a road accident on medical slip. Later, it was revealed too that Zahir Jaffer was registered as Therapist with Therapy Works and took sessions at a renowned private school. Therapy Works however denied this by claiming that Zahir Jaffer was never authorized for clinical practice. This aspect is also alarming and witnesses a feeble check of concerning regulatory government departments on such organizations.

On 25th July, the Islamabad police arrested the accused parents Zakir Jaffer and Asmat Adamjee along with servants on the charge of concealing facts and evidence of crime.  The facts revealed in the Noor murder case are more painful for the readers who are following this incident through media reports. The prime accused Zahir Jaffer has tortured Noor with a knuckleduster and then beheaded her as the Investigating Officer Abdul Sattar informed the court. It was also reported that she was allegedly raped as well.

The accused remained persistent during his court appearance that he is a US national and his lawyers will take care of him; however, on 27th July the US Embassy in Islamabad clarified through a statement on their official Twitter account that “In a foreign country, U.S. citizens are subject to that country’s laws. When Americans are arrested abroad, the Embassy can check on their well-being and provide a list of lawyers, but cannot provide legal advice, participate in court proceedings or effect their release.”

The Islamabad police took Zahir Jaffer to Punjab Forensic Science Agency in Lahore for a polygraph test along with forensic analysis of CCTV footage. Since the arrest of main accused Zahir Jaffer, his parents, servants and Therapy Works employees the court has held several hearings. The investigation is progressing at a snail pace as the police is mainly relying on circumstantial evidence rather than having an eye witness of the incident which is so far not available. The accused custodial confession of crime has its legal connotations.  The capital police submitted challan on 9th September in the Sessions Court. The bail plea of Zahir’s parents was also rejected.

On 14th July, the Additional Sessions Judge Atta Rabbani has indicted 12 persons, including prime accused Zahir Jaffer, for their alleged involvement in the murder of Noor Mukadam. Other than Zahir, the court framed charges against his parents, three household staff and six Therapy Works employees; on the other hand all of them pleaded not guilty to the charges. The court summoned the prosecution’s witnesses on 20th October to start the trial. Recently, the Supreme Court has granted bail to Zahir’s mother Asmat Adamjee only while his father is not granted bail.

Noor’s father is pursuing the case with a hope that the legal system of his country for which he rendered decades-long services would bring justice for his innocent daughter. The timely and effective remedy of his pain is speedy and fair trial of the case and to award maximum punishment to all who were involved in the murder of his daughter as per law. There is a famous saying that “Justice delayed is justice denied”. Since the Noor’s murder on 20th July, three months have been completed and the trial is under way. There are hundreds of legal procedures cum tactics to delay the court proceeding in Pakistan however, this case demands special attention from our judicial system to set an example that the law is equal for all irrespective of class difference. Noor’s family is still hoping that they will get justice without prolonged delay or else their daughter may plead her case in the court of God for the sake of justice.

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