September 14, 2023
By Abdullah Daha
The woman lawyer who was subjected to an acid attack on Monday, September 11, has been declared out of danger by doctors.
Nausheen Sabahat was targeted by her step-uncle and other male relatives over a property dispute, because of which she suffered burns to her face, torso and hands. Sabahat was admitted to a Multan hospital where she is responding well to treatment.
“At around 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, we heard a knock on the door… She (Sabahat) asked who it was and the person replied that they were from across the street and wanted to pick up some books. When she opened the door, all four of the accused were standing there,” recalled Shagufta Yasmin, Sabahat’s mother. She heard her daughter scream so loudly that at first she thought she had been bitten by a snake or something.
“She shut the door immediately. There was so much acid that the rest of it had splashed onto the gate.”
Yasmin issued an appeal to the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) as well as all senior officials in the police to secure justice for her daughter.
“I am a widow, and I have no siblings. My only support are my Lord and my son,” she said.
“We have been running from one court to another. My daughter was the one frequenting the courts, and now look what [the accused] have done to her.”
According to the first information report (FIR) filed at the Lodhran City Police Station, Nausheen’s step-uncle Qazi Naeem and his accomplices Qazi Tanveer, Mian Ansar and Shabir entered their home after she answered the door. Tanveer overturned a steel tumbler full of acid on the young lawyer which he had concealed in a pile of books they were carrying, while Shabir also dumped a bottle full of the corrosive substance on her.
The accused were arrested and charged under section 336-B (punishment for hurt by corrosive substance) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The Lodhran District Bar Association also released a video statement denouncing the attack on their bar member.
“I am grateful to the Lodhran DPO, SHO, CTO and DSP for tracing and arresting all four nominated accused,” President of the District Bar Association Lodhran Muhammad Kamran Khan said. “We are hopeful of a free and fair trial in which [Sabahat] will get due justice.”
He also stated that the Lodhran Bar Association will support the survivor in every step of the way.
“Nausheen Sabahat was practicing law as part of our chambers for the past year or so. We are deeply concerned by the acid attack orchestrated by her close relatives, in which she received severe burns all over her body,” said Naveed Maqbool Dogar, a member of the Punjab Bar Council who is also Chairman for Jail Reforms in Lodhran. He also explained that there are very few women in the legal sphere due to unsupportive societal structures.
However, in spite of this situation, some 30 women are practicing law in Lodhran. “It is unfortunate that one of them was targeted like this, and therefore we appeal [to the authorities] that the investigation be completed as soon as possible and the accused be given exemplary punishment.”
Sabahat was embroiled in a legal dispute with the accused over some property.
She had been approached multiple times in the past to rescind the case and refused to do so each time. According to one estimate, approximately 200 men and women in Pakistan suffer injuries in acid attacks every year, with many eventually succumbing to their injuries. Despite a ban on purchasing and selling acid, such incidents continue to be reported even today.