29 May 2014

Husband of Pakistan stoning victim killed his first wife

The husband of the pregnant woman stoned to death by her family for marrying him reveals he murdered his first wife to be with her, according to reports.

The case of Farzana Iqbal, 25, has caught the attention of the world. She was stoned and beaten to death by her family outside Lahore’s high court on Tuesday because she had married the man she loved – Muhammed Iqbal. She was pregnant when she was killed.

But now her husband, 45, has told Agence-France Presse (AFP) that he murdered his first wife to be with Farzana.

“I was in love with Farzana and killed my first wife because of this love,” he told AFP, adding that he strangled her. After admitting to the murder he reportedly switched off his phone and did not respond to further calls.

Muhammed Iqbal said he did not go to prison for his crime because he was forgiven by his son, who initially reported him. This protected him under a controversial law – the same law which could apparently protect Farzana’s family.

I was in love with Farzana and killed my first wife because of this love. Muhammed Iqbal, Farzana’s husband

Her family apparently killed her with bricks and stones in broad daylight while bystanders and, more importantly, the local police, reportedly stood by and did nothing.

The case has provoked international outrage and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has added his voice to the fray, demanding “immediate action” – two days after the attack.

In a statement, his office said he had taken notice of the “brutal killing” and the “totally unacceptable” crime would be dealt with promptly by law.

“I am directing the chief minister to take immediate action and a report must be submitted by this evening to my office,” he said.

‘I begged them to help’

Before his apparent murder confession, Iqbal’s husband had earlier said that police did nothing during the 15 minutes the violence lasted in Lahore, although police chiefs say there were no officers present until after the attack finished.

“I begged them to help us but they said, this is not our duty,” Muhammed Iqbal told Reuters. “I took off my shirt (to be humble) and begged them to save her.”

His wife’s father has been detained after the attack but the other suspects have disappeared. A police officer on Tuesday quoted the father as saying it had been an “honour killing”.

I do not even wish to use the phrase honour killing. There is not the faintest vestige of honour in killing a woman in this way. UN’s Navi Pillay

In parts of Pakistan, a largely Muslim nation of 180 million people, women are expected to agree to arranged marriages and refusal can mean an “honour killing”.

Many Pakistani families think it dishonourable for a woman to fall in love and choose her own husband. Iqbal apparently offended her family by marrying Muhammed rather than a cousin chosen for her.

So-called honour killings are relatively common in Pakistan, and as such the reaction in the country has been muted, with little comment in the papers and just a small protest in Islamabad. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said there were 869 such attacks reported in the media last year – several a day.

But the true figure is probably much higher since many cases are never reported.

“I do not even wish to use the phrase honour killing,” said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement in Geneva.

“There is not the faintest vestige of honour in killing a woman in this way.”