Members of civil society and the Human Rights Commission of
Pakistan hold placards during a protest in Islamabad
against the killing of Farzana Iqbal. REUTERS/Faisal
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has demanded to
know why police stood by while a pregnant woman was beaten to
death by her family in front of one of the country's top
Farzana Iqbal, 25, was killed by a group of attackers,
including her father, on Tuesday because she had married the
man she loved and prompted the anger of her family.
An investigation into the case showed that her husband had
earlier killed his first wife, a source in Sharif's
A statement from Sharif's office described Iqbal's death as a
"brutal killing" and said it was "totally unacceptable".
"I am directing the chief minister to take immediate action
and a report must be submitted by this evening to my office,"
it quoted Sharif as saying.
Her husband said that 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," Muhammed Iqbal told Reuters. "I took off my shirt (to
be humble) and begged them to save her."
Later a source in Sharif's administration quoted a Lahore
police report as saying that Iqbal had killed his first wife.
"The person, Iqbal, who she had married ... had actually
killed his own wife in an earlier case and remained a
proclaimed offender. He was later arrested and was released
on bail. Not a pristine character," the source told Reuters.
The husband was not immediately available for comment.
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.
The case drew condemnations from around the world.
"I do not even wish to use the phrase honour killing," said
UN 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."
Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a senior minister of state in the
British government and of Pakistani origin, said she was
appalled by the killing. "Perpetrators must be brought to
justice," she said.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said 869 such attacks
were reported in the media last year - several a day. But the
true figure is probably much higher since many cases are
Lahore police chief Shafiq Ahmad said no police were present
at the scene.
"They arrested the father, the main accused, a few moments
after the incident," he said. "... by the time police reached
the scene, the lady had been murdered."
Police initially said Farzana had been stoned, but Iqbal told
Reuters that relatives had swung bricks, not thrown them.
All the suspects, except the father, who has been detained,
have disappeared. A police officer on Tuesday quoted the
father as saying it had been an honour killing.
The 25-year-old had offended her family by marrying Iqbal
instead of a cousin selected for her.
In Pakistan, reaction has been muted - in stark contrast to
the public grief and outrage caused by the gang rape and
murder of a 23-year-old woman in neighbouring India in 2012.
In the capital Islamabad, about 40 activists protested
against 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
"This particular incident was very brutal. Police were there
and the poor woman was killed."
"DON'T KILL ME"
Muhammad Aurangzeb, Farzana's 20-year-old stepson, described
how one relative had tried to shoot her, then grabbed her
head scarf, causing her to fall over.
While a member of Iqbal's party wrestled the gun away, a
female cousin grabbed a brick and hit Farzana with it, he
"She was screaming and crying 'don't kill me, we will give
you money'," said Iqbal. He said he tried to save her but the
mob of more than 20 beat him back.
At one point, six people were beating her with bricks as she
screamed, he said, and he and his stepson begged police to
Finally she stopped screaming.
The attack happened near the gate of the heavily guarded
court, the two men said, on one of the busiest roads in
The couple had been due to testify there that morning that
their marriage was genuine in response to a false charge of
kidnapping brought by Farzana's family.
"She was afraid of being killed," said her lawyer, Rai Ghulan