Two men arrested in suspected honour killing

Samia Shahid with her husband Syed Mukhtar Kazam
Samia Shahid with her husband Syed Mukhtar Kazam

Male relatives believed to be the the father and cousin of a woman who was allegedly murdered in an honour killing in Pakistan have been arrested in the country.

Samia Shahid, 28, a beauty therapist from Bradford, is thought to have been murdered by her family when she was visiting them in the Punjab province.

Her husband Mukhtar Kazam said he was told by family members that she had a heart attack but he is adamant that she was the victim of an honor-killing.

The couple, both British-Pakistani dual citizens, had been married for two years and were living in Dubai, according to the police who said that it was Shahid’s second marriage.

“Her parents did not approve,” local police official Aqeel Abbas said, citing Kazam’s complaint.

He said Shahid was visiting her family’s village Pindori in Punjab’s Jehlum district.

“She was killed on July 20. She has been killed for honour,” Abbas said, quoting the complaint.

Labour MP Naz Shah has demanded an investigation into the death and now Pakistan’s interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has ordered an urgent probe into the matter.

She is calling for Shahid’s body to be exhumed and an independent autopsy carried out.

West Yorkshire Police and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are in contact with Pakistani authorities as part of the investigation.

Mujahid Akbar, the district police chief, said that police had detained two members of Shahid’s family for questioning.

Nothing can be ruled out. It can be a case of honour killing, but right now we are waiting for reports of medical tests done on her body,” Akbar said.

The men are believed to be her father and a cousin.

“We are investigating Chaudhary Shahid and Mobeen,” said local police chief Aqail Abbass. “This is due to the police initial investigation report in which we found a few contradictions and we want clearness from them”.

The paper adds that Chaudhary Shahid denies the second marriage to Kazam even occurred, insisting: “I don’t know who Syed Mukhtar [Kazam] is. My son-in-law is Chaudary Shakil, and my late daughter was living a happy life with him.”

Honour killings – a custom in which a relative is killed by another for bringing the family dishonour – are a near daily occurrence in Pakistan.

The victims are overwhelmingly women, with hundreds killed each year.

Earlier this month the murder of social media star Qandeel Baloch by her brother, who said it was for “honour”, provoked international shock and revulsion.

The killing polarised Pakistan and appears to have spurred politicians to take action.

Last week the law minister announced that bills aimed at tackling loopholes that facilitate honour killings would soon be voted on by parliament.

Rights groups and politicians have for years called for tougher laws to tackle perpetrators of violence against women in Pakistan.