Karachi, Sunday, March 25, 2012
The body of Fakhra Younus, who had committed suicide in Italy on Saturday, arrived in Karachi on Sunday. Fakhra’s family, MQM members, lawmakers and Abdul Sattar Edhi were among those present at the Karachi airport to receive the body. Fakhra committed suicide by jumping from the sixth floor of her flat in Rome.
Fakhra was a victim of an acid attack carried out by her husband, Bilal Khar, the son of PPP leader and former Chief Minister of Punjab Ghulam Mustafa Khar. He had burned her face and completely disfigured her, with acid attack 12 years ago. Funeral prayers were offered in the hospital ground in Rome and the body was sent for Pakistan. Fakhra’s burial took place in a graveyard in DHA.
In her last message before committing suicide, Fakhra had written that she was committing suicide over the silence of law on the atrocities and the insensitivity of Pakistani rulers.
In 1998, Yunus was an 18 year old resident of Napier Road’s Bulbul Bazar, Karachi’s red light district, when she met the then Muzaffargarh MPA Bilal Khar. They both got married after a six month relationship. This was Bilal’s third marriage, while Yunus had a three year old son from an earlier liaison.
Little did Yunus know, that this was not meant to be her fairytale marriage, since shortly after the marriage, she faced both physical and mental abuse by Khar, which lasted for three years before she eventually escaped and moved in with her mother.
An infuriated Khar allegedly took ‘revenge’ by pouring acid over her on May 14, 2000, as her five year old son watched. The attack left her severely burned, particularly her face. She, however, survived but not before spending three months in intensive care.
Khar used his political influence to evade arrest and absconded, while Yunus’s family faced difficulty in registering an FIR against him. On October 31, 2002, Khar was eventually arrested, but released in 2003 on Rs 200,000 bail.
In Yunus’ time of despair, social activist Tehmina Durrani came to the forefront to assist her. Durrani, ironically, was once married to Ghulam Mustafa Khar. After the then government showed reluctance in helping Yunus, Durrani convinced the Italian government to help her, by not only providing asylum but also sponsoring her treatment there. Khar, leveraging his influence, had vehemently tried to stop her exit from Pakistan, but failed.
Hina Rabbani Khar is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and is the cousin of the acid attacker Bilal Khar. Ironically, a few days ago, she has presented honors to Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy whose Oscar-winning documentary was about acid-burning attacks on women.