Pakistan: Asmat Perveen, public prosecutor

Asmat Perveen, public prosecutor in Pakistan

As one of the few women to become a district public prosecutor in Pakistan, Asmat Perveen never wearies of working toward a peaceful future for her country. On behalf of the German Federal Foreign Office, GIZ is strengthening the know-how of the public prosecutor's office in the province of Punjab and its cooperation with the police. In three newly established training centres, most justice department staff members receive training in various aspects of the law, from forensics and judicial inquiry on up to the formulation of verdicts.

How did you turn your passion for the law into a career?

I have wanted to become a lawyer and investigate murder cases ever since I was a child. It has been a long road, and it meant a lot of work. As a woman, I often had to prove myself, too. But I was ambitious, and eventually I attained my present post as district prosecutor of Punjab province.

What is your most important professional achievement so far?

In my position I have been able to strengthen cooperation between the police and the public prosecutor and to build up viable connections between the two. GIZ trained me as a trainer: so far I have held training sessions in 31 district police stations. In the course of these trainings, I not only raised police awareness of the relevant laws but was also able to pass on my own experience.

What challenges do you face in your job? What gives you the strength to meet them?

Being a public prosecutor in Pakistan is a tough job – no doubt about that – and it is unusual for a woman. I have worked on drug and anti-terror trials in which the accused have attempted to intimidate or bribe me. You have to have the courage of a lion to confront the threats and hostility of hardened criminals so they know you mean it. The recognition and appreciation I get in conducting my training sessions gives me a lot of self-confidence

In your view, what are your country's greatest problems?

The inequality between men and women, and terrorism. Women continue to be at a disadvantage. They are denied the chance to work with men and according to the same terms. Thousands of innocent people are killed in terrorist attacks.

What do you wish for the future?

When justice prevails, our country, our society and the poor among us will have a better and a happier future. If our efforts toward this goal are sincere, and if we persist and do not give up, God willing, we will succeed.


        
    
In 2012, the Centre for Professional Development, the first central training institution for prosecutors, opened in Punjab province. Photos: Fazal Ahmand
In 2012, the Centre for Professional Development, the first central training institution for prosecutors, opened in Punjab province. Photos: Fazal Ahmand

        
    
To date 180 prosecuting attorneys – about a fifth of all of the prosecutors in the district – have taken part in the GIZ training programme.
To date 180 prosecuting attorneys – about a fifth of all of the prosecutors in the district – have taken part in the GIZ training programme.

        
    
Perveen participated in a course of training that qualified her as a trainer herself. As a trainer, she can pass on to others her professional experience and her expertise.
Perveen participated in a course of training that qualified her as a trainer herself. As a trainer, she can pass on to others her professional experience and her expertise.

        
    
'In Pakistan, public prosecutor is an unusual profession for a woman,' notes Perveen.
'In Pakistan, public prosecutor is an unusual profession for a woman,' notes Perveen.

        
    
Of the 945 prosecuting attorneys in the province of Punjab, 84 are women.
Of the 945 prosecuting attorneys in the province of Punjab, 84 are women.

        
    
It is not unusual for a woman prosecuting attorney to have to present her case before an entirely male court.
It is not unusual for a woman prosecuting attorney to have to present her case before an entirely male court.

        
    
Following their training, the participants pose questions to the experienced prosecutor.
Following their training, the participants pose questions to the experienced prosecutor.

        
    
Perveen looks through some documents. As district public prosecutor, she has administrative duties as well.
Perveen looks through some documents. As district public prosecutor, she has administrative duties as well.