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‘All our daughters are special’

Farah Hameed Dogar has overnight become a household name in Pakistan. One of the resons Farah’s name shot to prominence was because her grades were mysteriously revised upwards in her Intermediate exam, reports Kamal Siddiqi.

world Updated: Dec 10, 2008 23:46 IST
Kamal Siddiqi

Farah Hameed Dogar has overnight become a household name in Pakistan. One of the resons Farah’s name shot to prominence was because her grades were mysteriously revised upwards in her Intermediate (HSC) exam. It is not usual for a student to have their grades revised so significantly that enables her to gain admission in a private medical college.

What makes her case more interesting, however, is the fact that she is the daughter of the chief justice of Pakistan, Abdul Hameed Dogar.

Last month, a national English language daily published an expose which showed how Farah’s marks changed after re-examination by the Federal Board of Education based in Islamabad. The expose showed how government education officials went out of the way to award more marks to the girl in question overstepping their authority in the process.

When contacted, the chief justice remarked that all had been done lawfully and there was no illegality involved. Till the story was published, it is alleged that various government officials had tried to pressurise the paper in question not to publish the story.

But the paper ran it and also ran a side story titled ‘All our daughters are special’ in which the editors argued that the purpose of the story was not attack the image of the chief justice but to highlight the plight of those young men and women whose right to admission had been denied to them. The paper argued that the same special treatment should be given to all daughters.

After publication of the story, Pakistani officialdom woke up to the implications of it. Hundreds of letters, calls and e-mails were received and exchanged over the issue with outraged Pakistanis calling for the Chief Justice to step down. He did not but there have been other casualties.

The PM reacted by sacking his press secretary, who seemed to have acted on his own to have the story stopped. The case was then taken up by a special committee of the parliament after the matter was highlighted by angry MPs. Soon after, however, the Supreme Court stayed the proceedings of the parliamentary committee.

For the lawyer movement in Pakistan, fighting for the restoration of the sacked Chief Justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, the scandal is a lifeline. The new Chief Justice is enmeshed in a personal controversy and there is much to be said on this. The battlelines are being drawn. We are waiting for the next move.