ISLAMABAD (TIP): Pakistan’s prime minister on May 29 ordered provincial officials to take “immediate action” over the brutal murder of a pregnant woman bludgeoned to death outside a top court. Farzana Parveen was attacked on May 27 outside the high court building in the eastern city of Lahore by more than two dozen brick-wielding attackers, including her brother and father, for marrying against the wishes of her family.
Hundreds of women are murdered by relatives in Pakistan each year supposedly to defend family “honour”, but the brazen nature of the attack, in broad daylight and in the centre of the country’s second-largest city, has shocked rights activists. The fact that police officers guarding the court apparently did nothing to intervene to save the 25-year-old has added to the outrage. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has told the Punjab chief minister, his brother Shahbaz Sharif, to act.
“I am directing the chief minister to take immediate action and report must be submitted by this evening to my office,” the prime minister said in a statement released by his office. “This crime is totally unacceptable and must be dealt with in accordance with law promptly.” Parveen, who was three months pregnant, had gone to court to testify in defence of her husband Muhammad Iqbal — who was accused by her relatives of kidnapping her and forcing her into marriage.
Iqbal, 45, told AFP the couple had survived a previous attack during the first hearing of the case on May 12 and demanded justice for his wife. The incident gained prompt attention from the global media and international human right activists reacted to it.
The UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, also strongly condemned the killing on Wednesday, urging the Pakistani government to take “urgent and strong measures” to put an end to so-called honour killings in the country. Last year, 869 women died in so-called “honour killings” according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
Conviction rates are very low due to Pakistan’s blood-money laws which allow kin to forgive perpetrators, usually family members in such cases.