Lahore Laws

CRIME & INVESTIGATION – Saturdays from 18 July, 8.30pm

For the first time ever, in this three part series; a documentary team has filmed Pakistan’s Criminal and Civil Courts in action. Lahore Law is an intimate encounter with a legal system that’s a legacy of the British Raj. The courts are overstretched and bureaucratic, the justice rough and ready. The first case ‘Murder at the Shrine’ witnesses the trial of Babar Islam, a man who stands accused of killing a holy man at a shrine where they both worked. At first glance, the case against him seems powerful. His legal-aid defence attorney is inexperienced in criminal law. His prosecutor, one of Lahore’s most powerful lawyers, is confident he will get the death penalty. But Babar Islam insists he is innocent, and as the credibility of the evidence is stripped away there is a mounting sense that he may be executed for a crime he did not commit. The Pakistani justice system may be British in origin, but in the second part of this unprecedented look at Pakistan’s law courts the case is distinctly Islamic. The serious crime of Zinna, sex outside marriage carries a life sentence. Khalida claims she was abducted and raped by Waqar. Waqar says they were in love and that at her instigation they ran away and got married. One of them is lying: is it Waqar in order to save his skin, or Khalida, pressurised by her family into preserving their good name? Waqar’s resourceful lawyer does some sleuthing of his own and discovers Khalida has a secret. If he can prove his case, it’s she who may be on trial for the crime of Zinna. The final programme ‘A Suitable Husband’ gives an in-depth look inside Pakistan’s law courts and throws an intimate light on Islamic marriage by following two cases of divorce. Asma and Kausar who are both 20 and both are trying to escape from unsuitable husbands. Asma’s husband is 45 with two other wives and a grandchild. Kausar has been forcibly married to a cousin – he is just 12. Pakistan’s legal system allows women to divorce their husbands, but socially it is still unacceptable. Alia Malik, the young lawyer representing Asma, is one of a new generation of female lawyers trying to win cases for women in a hostile climate. A climate made all the more difficult by both husbands who are contesting the divorce.