Husband of woman bludgeoned to death in Pakistan strangled first wife

The husband of a pregnant Pakistani woman bludgeoned to death outside a courthouse murdered his first wife, he told AFP yesterday, in a gruesome twist to a story that has shocked rights activists.

Husband of  woman bludgeoned to death in Pakistan strangled  first wife

Farzana Parveen was murdered on Tuesday outside the High Court in the eastern city of Lahore by more than two dozen attackers, including her brother and father, for marrying against her family’s wishes.

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.

Now Parveen’s husband Mohammad Iqbal, 45, has admitted killing his first wife.

“I was in love with Farzana and killed my first wife because of this love,” adding he had strangled her.

Iqbal 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.

Rights groups have expressed fears the same blood-money laws that spared Iqbal could be used to pardon Parveen’s killers.

Zulfiqar Hameed, a senior police officer investigating the killing of Parveen, said police would be filing a report to the government last night detailing Iqbal’s past.

“Iqbal was a notorious character and he had murdered his first wife six years ago. A police case was lodged against him and he was on the run for many weeks,” Hameed said. “He was arrested and later released after a compromise with his family.”

According to Iqbal, a farmer from the Jaranwala district of Punjab, Parveen’s family had initially agreed to their marriage, but they had later fallen out because they wanted a greater dowry.

Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif has demanded to know why police apparently stood by while pregnant Farzana was stoned and beaten to death.

Sharif had taken notice of the “brutal killing” in the presence of police, his press office said, adding that a “totally unacceptable” crime had to be dealt with promptly by law. “I am directing the chief minister to take immediate action and a report must be submitted to my office,” it said, quoting Sharif.

Iqbal’s husband said police did nothing during the 15 minutes the violence lasted outside Lahore High Court.

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

In parts of Pakistan, a largely Muslim nation of 180m, 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.

But Lahore police chief Shafiq Ahmad said no police were present. “They arrested the father, the main accused, a few moments after the incident; by the time police reached the scene, the lady had been murdered,” he said.

Police initially said Farzana had been stoned, but Iqbal said relatives had swung bricks, not thrown them. All the suspects, except the father, who has been detained, have disappeared. A police officer quoted the father as saying it had been an honour killing.

In the capital Islamabad, about 40 activists protested over brutality against women, shouting “Hang the killers of Farzana!” and “We don’t accept this injustice”. Violence against women is on the rise. Women are being killed in the name of honour,” said Farzana Bari, an activist.

Last year 869 women died in so-called ‘honour killings’ according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

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