Asia-Pacific

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Officers not to blame for 'honour killing', says police chief

Rob Crilly in Islamabad

Published 30/05/2014|02:30

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Members of civil society and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan hold placards during a protest in Islamabad against the killing of Farzana Iqbal
Members of civil society and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan hold placards during a protest in Islamabad against the killing of Farzana Iqbal
Civil rights activists in Lahore protest against the stoning to death of pregnant 25-year-old Farzana Parveen

A Pakistani police chief has hit back at allegations his officers failed to prevent the murder of a pregnant woman in broad daylight, accusing the victim of an illegal marriage and her husband of killing his first wife in Lahore.

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Farzana Parveen (25) was bludgeoned to death on Tuesday because she had married the man she loved, according to police.

Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan's prime minister, has demanded to know how she could have died in an "honour killing" so close to the city's court complex which would have been swarming with officers.

It took almost 48 hours to bring a government response in a country where hundreds of women are murdered by relatives every year.

Shafiq Ahmad, the head of Lahore city police, issued a defence of his officers, claiming none was present when Farzana was attacked by more than 20 male relatives wielding bricks.

"There's no doubt it was an honour killing," he said. "She was already married to someone else when she eloped so her second marriage was illegal."

In a further twist, he also said Ms Parveen's husband Mohammad Iqbal had been accused of murdering his first wife.

He said he was spared a prison term because his son – who alerted police to the murder – later forgave him under Pakistan's controversial blood-money laws.

Mr Iqbal (45) gave an interview to AFP news agency, saying: "I was in love with Farzana and killed my first wife because of this love," adding that he had strangled her.

The brazen, brutal nature of the killing, in broad daylight in the centre of Pakistan's second largest city, has triggered outrage around the world. Police in Pakistan are frequently accused of failing to properly investigate similar cases.

Zohra Yusuf, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said it was commonplace to shift blame to the victims to enable family members to arrange blood money payments among themselves and escape prosecution.

Last year, almost 900 women died in honour killings, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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