Pakistani police probing the brutal murder of a 25-year-old pregnant woman stoned to death in a case of honour killing on Friday arrested four men, including her uncle.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has given a 24-hour deadline to police to round up all those involved in the killing of Farzana who was murdered outside the Lahore High court on May 27 for marrying the man of her choice.
“We have arrested an uncle and three cousins of Farzana Parveen and raids are underway to arrest her two brothers,” Lahore police spokesman Niyab Haider said.
“We are trying hard to meet the deadline given to Lahore police by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to arrest all the accused in the case within 24 hours,” he said. The police have inserted Anti-Terrorism Act sections in the FIR on the direction of Chief Minister Shahbaz, who was yesterday ordered by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is his brother, to take immediate action against the killers.
The number of arrests in the case now reached five, as Farzana’s father had already been detained. Farzana, who was three months pregnant, had gone to the court to testify in defence of her husband Muhammad Iqbal, 45, accused of kidnapping her and forcing her to marry him.
She was attacked outside the Lahore High Court by nearly 20 members of her family, including her father and brothers, with sticks and bricks.
Farzana died on the spot after suffering critical head wounds while Iqbal managed to escape.
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Meanwhile, in a new twist to the case, Iqbal has admitted to the police that he had killed his first wife because of his love for Farzana.
Lahore Investigation Wing head Zulfiqar Hamid said Iqbal had murdered his first wife six years ago. His son who was complainant in the case later pardoned him.
Iqbal, a resident of Nanakana Sahib, some 80 km from Lahore, told police that he contracted a love marriage with Farzana (also a resident of Nankana) a few months ago. “We contracted court marriage as the family of Farzana was not happy,” he said, adding since their marriage the family members of Farzana were continuously threatening them.
“They had filed an abduction case against me in the Lahore High Court and on May 27 we were to appear in the court in this regard,” he said.
Farzana’s father, Muhammad Azeem, has expressed no remorse on the cold-blooded murder and described it as “honour killing”.He also alleged that Farzana was already married to her cousin before she eloped with Iqbal and contracted illegal marriage with him.
Meanwhile, the US and the UK have taken strong exception to the horrific incident and called on Islamabad to bring to justice the killers of Farzana.
The chairperson of National Commission on the Status of Women, Khawar Mumtaz, said the incident highlights impunity with which killings in the name of honour are occurring through the country.
“A major lacuna in the Honour Killings Act 2004 has rendered the law useless as it fails to provide protection to victims and punishment for perpetrators of the heinous crime,” she said. Honour killing is common crime in Pakistan and every years hundreds of women are killed over matrimonial issues.
Around 900 women were killed in Pakistan last year by their families in honour killings, according to Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a private organisation. Convictions in such case are almost nil as in most of the cases the accused are relatives of the victims and they are pardoned under the local laws.