'I Believed The System Would Protect Us, I Was Wrong'

Khadija Shah's mother, Anila Shah, breaks her silence, speaks to the media for the very first time about her daughter's prolonged incarceration

'I Believed The System Would Protect Us, I Was Wrong'

Aneela Shah, the mother of fashion mogul Khadija Shah who is implicated in May 9 incidents, has said that they believed the legal system would protect them if they pursued Khadija's freedom as per the law.

But as the court on Monday allowed Quetta police to take custody of Khadija in a seven-month-old case and drag the fashion mogul to Balochistan, Aneela believes the system has turned into a tyrant.

The Lahore High Court on Monday directed the Punjab police to present fashion mogul Khadija Shah before the court after being informed that Quetta police had taken her custody over a case registered against her there. Aneela Shah spoke to Naya Daur just before the hearing resumed. This was her first interview with any media anywhere since her daughter surrendered earlier this year, wanted for her alleged involvement in May 9 incidents in Lahore.

"Khadija Shah was arrested for a tweet; she did not even break a leaf anywhere; she did not pick up a stone," Aneela told Naya Daur in an exclusive interview as she urged the Supreme Court to take notice of the issue.

Talking about the incident and Khadija's alleged involvement, Aneela said her daughter was coincidentally there for a brief period, and by the time the situation worsened, she had returned back home, which was located just five minutes from the location of the May 9 incidents in Lahore.

"When the authorities started looking for her, she was not arrested; she voluntarily surrendered because we knew she was innocent and had not done anything illegal," Aneela maintained.

"The way we believed the legal system of the country operates, and we pursued this legally, we believed she would be back with her children in a few days," Aneela said before lamenting how a few days had today turned into 200 days of incarceration.

State as a caretaker of citizens

Aneela noted that while her father may have led the military at one point, but it has been nearly 30 years since his passing. 

"My father passed away in 1993, and principally I was orphaned, but I never felt that because I felt the system is my protector," she said, adding that the way her child had been treated, she was forced to change her views.

"Today, I feel that I have truly fallen because I do not have the protection of the system, our military or our judiciary."

Aneela said that thus far, they have totally relied on the legal system. 

"We were confident that we will not face any injustice. But today, my daughter is being taken to a city thousands of kilometres away in a total blackout. We are not being told when the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) against her was withdrawn, and a request was filed by the Quetta police with the Punjab home department for her custody," she lamented.

"All of this shows it is mala fide, that it is based on mal-intent. Why are you so afraid of a young woman?" she asked.

Aneela added that Khadija had never stepped into Quetta City as an adult.

"I think she last went when she was born, and I took her to see my father (former chief of army staff Asif Nawaz Janjua), who was posted there. After that, I don't think she has even visited Quetta."

She said it was hard to believe she had been implicated in a case in Quetta and for Quetta police to take custody of her from the backdoor of Kot Lakhpat and to take her to the western city via road when the judge had ordered to present her before the court.

"They must present her before the court. If there is something called the rule of law and there is a legal system in this country, then she must be presented before the court."

Future course of action

Anila Shah said that they are ready to go to any and every court in the land to seek relief, including the apex court.

"If she is not presented today, we will go to every court where we are heard, whether that is the Balochistan High Court or the Supreme Court," she said, adding, "I will go and stand before the Supreme Court like a lot of other people do."

She urged the Supreme Court to take notice of the grave violation of human rights.

"We have followed all avenues of justice, whether it is the ATC or the Lahore High Court (LHC)," she said, adding that the LHC had first granted them bail in two cases and then gave another set of bail.

"We had received four bails when they slapped us with an MPO," she said.

Aneela said that they challenged the MPO as well, and just when they felt they might get relief in that case as well, a case from Quetta emerged. 


"Despite the fact that previously, our lawyer had asked if there was any other case pending against her which had been registered anywhere in Pakistan, and the interior ministry had stated in a letter that there was no other case pending against her," Aneela stated.

"Overnight, a case was registered against her in Quetta."


Khadija is not a criminal

Asked about Khadija's alleged role in the May 9 incidents, Aneela denied that Khadija was involved in any illegal actions.

She was never a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), nor was she a member of any sort of [party] committee; she was just an educated citizen. 

"Every Pakistani citizen has a right to hold a view. We do not think there is as yet any restriction on thought," Aneela stated.

Tell me what crowd Khadija Shah had gathered, Aneela asked.

"Khadija Shah was not present at any of the places (where she is accused of being). Do you think she was a ghost that on May 9, she was in front of the Corps Commander's house and also outside Askari Towers and then she was at Rahat Bakery where she allegedly participated in burning a car and then her tweets, which is all they have and tweets are not a crime in any country," she said.

Apology offered

Aneela said that Khadija had offered to tender an unconditional apology as well.

"She had offered to apologise if she had made a mistake," Aneela said.

"We are ready to give any kind of undertaking that is demanded that neither will she be politically active nor will she issue any statement, but all our undertakings were set aside."

She added how they had heard the state is like a mother that cares for its citizens like its children, but currently, they were watching the state adopt the image of a treacherous snake.

Khadija Shah has three children, two of whom are boys, including one who is 15 years old, another who is 14 years old, and the third who is a five-year-old girl.

"Her mother was in Kot Lakhpat when she turned five. Whenever and wherever we got a chance in the ATC, we made sure the girl met her mother. Her mother had not left the child alone for even a minute and has been separated from her for 200 days now."

"Thousands of people are in custody, including 1,800-2,100 women in Kot Lakhpat alone," she said.

"There has to be a moment that this dark night comes to an end," she said, adding, "If you want this state to progress as a normal state, then this kind of tyranny needs to end."

Aneela stated that those who were involved must definitely be prosecuted, but those who have not done anything must not be punished.