A sessions court in Islamabad on Thursday sentenced Zahir Zakir Jaffer, the scion of a wealthy business family, to death for rape and murder of his 27-year-old girlfriend Noor Mukadam. Pakistanis are contrasting the case with that of the recent Qandeel Baloch judgment, in which her killer was able to secure an acquittal.
According to Pakistani newspaper Dawn, additional sessions judge Ata Rabbani announced the verdict, which was reserved on Tuesday, following months of hearing. Jaffar, a Pakistani-American, had raped and beheaded Noor at his upscale Islamabad residence in July last year.
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The mental health trope
Zahir had tortured Noor with a knuckleduster before beheading her but his family, instead of contacting police, had called upon Therapy Works facility for rehabilitation to admit their son.
An opinion article in Gulf News details how the power and influence of Jaffer’s family ensured that his actions remained concealed, even prior to the killing of Noor. Syed Talat Hussain, who authored the Gulf News article, writes how the lead psychiatrist in the case admitted to making a mistake. “He is also heard sharing with his colleagues the background of the attacker who apparently had a long history of drug abuse and violent conduct that did not spare even his mother but which was all wrapped in silence through influence-peddling and use of the family’s wealthy status.”
People across Pakistan have lauded the court’s decision and took to Twitter to share reactions:
Demonic entity Zahir Jaffer awarded death sentence in Noor Mukaddam’s murder case ✌️
— Hassan Khan (@mhassankhan06) February 24, 2022
The verdict in the #NoorMukaddam case is unprecedented and will bring solace to the lives of her family. Justice has been served. pic.twitter.com/LOjvWqtnxv
— Mehrene Malik Adam (@AdamMehrene) February 24, 2022
Court sentences Zahir Jaffer to death in Noor Mukaddam case. I never thought that I'd be relieved hearing death sentence but he literally deserved this after such a horrifying act,
justice is served 🙌 #JusticeForNoor pic.twitter.com/yM3QREbLvO
— Apki Baji ❤ (@Oye_Sam_) February 24, 2022
Pakistanis also called for immediate implementation of the sentence, and for similar sentencing in other cases as well, where horrific violence has been committed against women.
Finally justice is served to #NoorMukaddam and murderer Zahir jaffer is sentenced to death. This process of justice should continue for other crimes as well.#NoorMukaddam pic.twitter.com/VHgG3Vdu7d
— 🦋ŘÃBÌĄĹŁ🦋 🇵🇰 (@Rabaill15) February 24, 2022
Zaheer Jaffer got death penalty in Noor Mukaddam's case. Fingers crossed for it's instant implementation as well coz
JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED.#NoorMuqaddam pic.twitter.com/cilPY9SGI0
— Aemin Rajput 🦋 ɴᴀʏᴀʙ'ꜱ ᴅᴀʏ 🍜🍟 (@itx_Aehna) February 24, 2022
Many shared Noor’s photo from a protest where she was holding a placard demanding justice for rape victims:
In Picture below Noor Mukaddam is seen with a placard in support of rape & murder victims.We hope Justice should not only be done but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be believed with her & in the manner she demanded it for other victims in placard below
— بول کہ لب 👄آزاد ہیں تیرے (@KhawajaSaleem) February 22, 2022
Qandeel and Noor
Noor’s father Shaukat Mukadam, a former diplomat, said that the case was a question of all the daughters of Pakistan and not just his.
Last week, a Pakistan high court allowed the murderer of Qandeel Baloch to walk free. The murderer, Qandeel’s brother Muhammad Waseem, had admitted to killing his 26-year-old social media star sister for posting “shameful” pictures on Facebook in 2016.
While the sentencing in Qandeel’s case had drawn sharp reactions across Pakistan, Noor’s case seems to have brought a sense of relief and hope.
People are pointing out how Qandeel was failed by the same judiciary that gave Noor’s murderer his due.
I am sharing this because the contrast between two cases & how class played a massive role in accessing justice in the same country should be everyone’s concern. I am heartbroken for Qandeel & I am heartbroken for Noor, the both deserved to live & now both deserve equal Justice. pic.twitter.com/FjnpdU8of6
— HADEEL SAHAL ALBALUSHI -GNB (@HlHadeel) February 24, 2022
No doubt this is a sigh of relief but the decision can/will be appealed in High court and further appealed to Supreme court. A remedy to pardon by the Prime Minister is also available. Remember Qandeel's brother is a free man now. A Trail can take you anywhere. Wait & watch. pic.twitter.com/g9pOxMpnac
— Raees Jahangir (@RaeesJahangir5) February 24, 2022
A Twitter user Sahar also pointed out how the question of ‘character’ played out in the Qandeel Baloch case, where her ‘questionable’ reputation was a deterrent to her murderer being punished:
Pakistani logic: Just because a woman is not "naik" she doesnt deserve justice and murderers arent at fault.
Why do we always end up discussing every dead woman's character to justify her getting justice? Even if she was not "naik" according to you, Noor, Qandeel and every –
— Sahar (@ustaanijee) February 22, 2022
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Has justice really been served?
Considering Qandeels brother was also first sentenced to 25 years but eventually got acquittal because of Pakistan’s controversial blood pardons, not many are upbeat about the judgment in Noor’s case.
Pakistani activist Usama Khilji wondered if this is the end of the matter, or the case might have a different outcome in a higher court.
Zahir Jaffer sentenced to death for murder of Noor Mukaddam by trial court in Islamabad; after attempts to pose as mentally unwell & blaming her family for her death.
Will the high court, where Jaffer is likely to appeal this decision, uphold this decision?#JusticeForNoor
— Usama Khilji (@UsamaKhilji) February 24, 2022
Author Salman Rashid is convinced Jaffer will walk free because of the wealth and tremendous influence his family has in Pakistan.
I have grieved for Noor Mukaddam. Her murderer should indeed be hanged. He has been sentenced to hang. BUT HE WILL YET WALK FREE.
Or at least he ain't hangin' friends.
— Salman Rashid (@odysseuslahori) February 24, 2022