A funeral was held at Lahore’s Cathedral Church last Monday for Shazia Masih, a maid who’d been working for a lawyer and a former head of the Lahore Bar Association. She was 12 years old. She had been brutalized, according to an autopsy report, but whether she was murdered is still in question.
Shazia’s employer, Chaudhry Naeem, is claiming through an attorney that Shazia was suffering from a skin disease, and that he had taken her to the hospital for treatment. “Her death certificate,” according to The Times, “says she died of blood poisoning.” Shazia’s family claims she was tortured and killed. “an account that the medical examiner’s preliminary report seems to support. It lists 17 injuries, including bruised swellings on her forehead, cheek and scalp, ’caused by blunt means.’ A more thorough medical report is due out in the coming weeks.”
The Pakistani media quickly seized on the story after Shazia’s death in January and played up the angle of a helpless waif tortured by her rich employer. The story moved the Pakistani president enough that he granted Shazia’s family a large sum of money. Naeem’s lawyers claim the girl’s family is milking public opinion for sympathy and money.
Curiously, however, the Times story leaves silent two aspects of the story that are dominating the Pakistani press. First, that Shazia Masih was a Christian maid working for a Muslim lawyer. The story doesn’t mention Shazia’s religion, leaving it to the reader to deduce it from her last name: Masih is Arabic for Christ. The angle seems significant in light of the Pakistani Christian community is making of it: the Pakistani Christian press, through such organs as the Pakistan Christian Post and Pakistan Christian TV, has all but tried and convicted Shazia’s employers. The Post begins one story by referring to Naeem bluntly as “killer,” and that “killer Mohammad Naeem is enjoying VIP treatment in police station where he is giving instructions to lawyers, medical teams and his friends in government on his cell phone.” (another story in the same organ, however, also notes that “Sources close to the investigators revealed the victim family is blackmailing the accused to mint money after her mysterious killing appeared as breaking news on local TV channels.”)
The second presumably significant detail The Times story leaves silent is the Lahore legal community’s mob reaction against Shazia’s family: they have not been able to get a lawyer: “Because of the threats posed by the powerful Lahore Bar Association – an umbrella organization of city lawyers – no Christian or Muslim lawyer is ready to take on the defence in the murder of 12 year-old Shazia Bashir,” AsiaNews reported, citing the Pakistani Christian association that deals with legal assistance.
The only question arises: Who is the responsible? Who Killed Shazia Masih?