Friday, June 22, 2007



Kafila Siddiqui, 40, a former resident of Richmond Hill, Ont., working on a project with Bell Canada to bring telecommunications systems to Pakistan was buried on Sunday 10th of June in her hometown of Karachi after a traditional Muslim funeral rites attended by her husband, Suleman Qaisar, and the couple's five-year-old son, both of whom traveled from Canada to Pakistan.

The death of a Canadian businesswoman, who had been living and working in Pakistan, died under mysterious circumstances on Saturday night with involvement of MNA from Muzzafargarh, minister of state for communication Engineer Shahid Jamil Qureshi. However, a murder charge would be added to the FIR if the medical report proved that the woman’s death was not natural.

Siddiqui's brother, Mustafa Qayum, alleged the minister kept his sister in "illegal confinement." The family had not heard from her in months and her husband reported her missing more than a month ago, in May. "I went to Islamabad twice to look her up, but personnel posted at the gate denied that she lived there or that she had an office there," Mustafa Qayum told BBC News. He told the Pakistani newspaper that his sister and the minister were trying to secure aid money from the Canadian government, a joint venture that caused a rift between the two. "I don't know if she was murdered by the minister, but he is certainly responsible for the conditions in which she died," he said.

A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs said Canadian consular officials had been in touch with Pakistani authorities about the case, but would not reveal any details. A spokesperson for the Pakistan foreign ministry said the Canadian High Commission was looking for "any information available about the circumstances in which Kafila died. “(They also) requested we let them know the outcome of our investigation," Tasnim Aslam said. The interior ministry, she added, had been asked to investigate the case and submit a report which would be forwarded to the Canadian government.

On the other hand, Qureshi dismissed the allegations about him as a plan to tarnish his political reputation. "Her husband had threatened to divorce her, and had asked her for a substantial amount of money," Qureshi reportedly said.

Friends in Canada said the couple had a strong relationship. The family had lived in Richmond Hill for about eight years, and when Siddiqui moved to Islamabad to continue her work, her husband with his young son stayed behind because of his job as a sales representative at a pharmaceutical company.

It was certainly a failure of the Islamabad police not to act on a report sent by Interpol on Mr Qaiser’s complaint that his wife was being kept in illegal custody by the minister. The Islamabad administration had asked for a probe in this connection.

Kafila’s murder episode would have serious repercussions on the reputation of government of Pakistan because she was a Canadian national. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz advised Minister of state to tender his resignation from the cabinet. On a very next day, minister during a press conference showed his resignation declaring it as “an act of volunteer”.

It is interesting to note that Kafila traveled all the way from Canada to Islamabad, hired a house for herself but the minister and engineer, also deceased partner in business, Shahid Jamil preferred to move from his own official residence to live with her since many months. This is something strange for a somewhat conservative society of Pakistan. No ordinary Pakistani can think of living together in this manner. This exposes liberal trends being pampered by the concept of the so-called enlightened moderation. I blamed not to minister as he is not guilty so for, but Kafila herself and her husband Suleman Qaisar more then anybody else. Kafila’s life certainly became a victim of ultra-enlightenment in “fundamentalist society” and more interestingly this time, it was not a fundamentalist with a beard who terminated her life.

The last night of Kafila’s life pointed towards the use of excessive liquor with vomiting and marks of torture on her body. This death has made it a topic for debate about the standard of ethics and morality to be endorsed by a public representative. Nonetheless, even skeptics are cocksure admitting this relationship was not at all a brother-sister, as declared by minister of state for communication right after Kafila’s death. Let us wait and see what time has in store to expose the true tale in a course of few days.

Published in daily The Post, 19 June 2007, Weekly Independent July, 2007
The author is a freelance columnist residing in Islamabad.

House # 2026, Street # 32,
Cell: 0300 52 56 875

Tue, Oct 23, 2007 at 4:52 PM
Hi Mahtab Sahib,
I read your blog. very goof stuff.I will love to have your opinion further int his regard. I am doing my final version of story about this woman.
Mohsin Abbas
Reporter/ Producer BBC World Services
The Hamilton Spectator
Toronto - Canada
Mobile: +1-905-921-0422
Office: +1-905-526-3199

Wed, Oct 24, 2007 at 1:15 PM
Thank you for your kind response. I am sorry for my mail in rush. There were some typo.I meant 'good' and I have to file a last piece on her. I was not able to gather much opinions on her death by Pakistani people in ( Pakistan). I will be meeting her husband next week. All I know she was a mysterious woman.

No comments: