The four women and two men were found guilty of “disrespecting gender segregation customs" at a wedding, by a local jirga (tribal assembly of elders). Although the women are married, the two men they were dancing and singing with are not blood-relatives (mahrams), which is a no-no in Islam. I'm not sure how you can expect to segregate genders at a wedding, but I assume they somehow manage.
Someone at the wedding, two months ago, taped the festivities on their cell phone and then forwarded the footage to the families of the women. The oldest brother of the two accused men, Muhammad Afzal said,
“The jirga did not bother to hear the ‘accused’ and condemned them to death,”The jirga obviously knows what they are doing is wrong because they have raised Rs400,00 in case they're sued.
They have also rounded up 40 young men to execute the condemned six. The men are supposed to be shot first, which might be difficult since they happened to escape. The women, on the other hand, were shipped back from their in-laws to their parents' village, and according to Afzal,
“They are tied with ropes. They are being starved.”Afzal also believes the tape could be bogus since it doesn't really show them dancing together, and he has enemies.
“Since our family is affluent and owns vast acres of forestland, orchards and agriculture farms in Bando Baidar village. They (our rivals) hatched a plot to deprive us of our property."
Abdul Majeed Afridi, the district police officer, agrees with Afzal. The background where the women are singing folk songs is not the same as where the men are seen dancing.
In the meantime, the authorities are doing what they can to make sure the women are not harmed, although there is a discrepancy as to whether the women are safe or not.
“We have detained eight people (from the women’s tribe). And they have given us a written guarantee that the women would not be harmed,” Hazara Division Commissioner Khalid Khan Umerzai told The Express Tribune.
The commissioner claimed that the women were safe at the homes of their parents in Seertaiy village. He also confirmed that the condemned men have fled their village.
The local police chief said that a police party, headed by a deputy superintendent police, has been sent to Seertaiy village to recover the girls who, The Express Tribune reported, were locked in a room and were being starved.
Abdul Majeed Afridi, the district police officer, also endorsed Umerzai’s claimed that “the women are safe in their parents’ homes”.
Why the jirgas are still allowed to exist in 21st century Pakistan, is shameful. Various rights organizations in Pakistan are demanding the end to jirgas. Good luck with that. As Pakistan becomes more Talibanized, it will only get worse.
UPDATE 6/4/12 Some bizarre, conflicting reports have emerged regarding this whole incident. According to the Pakistani news site Dawn, Afzal recently contacted journalists notifying them that the women had been killed by family members on May 30. On the other hand, police officials claim they have arrested four people, Afzal, his two brothers, and the man who videotaped the incident. They also say that no such jirga took place, and that the women are alive and well. Afzal has demanded that if the women are alive, they should bring them forth. So, who knows where the truth lies.