Calls are mounting for Britain’s Lord Nazir Ahmed to be stripped of his peerage after he was convicted of sexually abusing two children in the 1970s. Nazir, who is currently awaiting sentencing, was born in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and has been considered close to the Government of Pakistan and pro-Kashmir causes. He was about 17 when the offences occurred, although his victims — a boy and a girl — were significantly younger. Nazir’s elder brothers were also suspected of the same crime, but they were found to be unfit to stand trial due to poor health. However, jurors concluded that they were also involved, meaning they would also probably have been found guilty.
Nazir, who said he would appeal the ruling, has a sordid history of sexual crimes, having previously faced a parliamentary inquiry over allegations that he sexually exploited a woman who approached him for help. However, he resigned from the House of Lords before he could be expelled. He still maintains the title because withdrawing it requires an act of parliament.
In court, Nazir reportedly tried to smear the victims for having financial motives and for not reporting the crimes in a timely manner. It’s almost as if Nazir was trying to exploit the close-knit nature of many Pakistani immigrant families and their general mistrust of the authorities. The defence was also ignorant of the fact that many adult victims, let alone children, take months and years to muster up the courage to speak out about their abuse.
The conviction is a credit to the British legal system and rights activists, who have helped ensure that even after half a century, people who committed violent crimes such as child abuse will still face justice.
Nazir also became a political pariah after the charges relating to his time in office became known. Compare that to Pakistan, where we have seen people facing or even convicted of crimes maintaining popularity and position within political parties and society. Meanwhile, despite some recent improvements, police are rarely willing to investigate recent crimes involving influential people.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2022.