Sad day for Pakistan: Memorial takes place for pregnant woman who was stoned to death in Lahore "honor killing"
Scores of people, mostly family members, women from native villages, journalists and human rights activists attended a soyem, or memorial, on Friday to remember Farzana Parveen, the 25-year-old Pakistani woman stoned to death in Lahore on Tuesday.
In the village of Jhok Kallu Khan, 150km (93 miles) from the scene of Ms Parveen’s so-called “honor killing”, Aurengzeb Iqbal, her 22-year-old stepson, said it was the saddest thing to have ever happened to his family. “In just a few months we warmed to her and developed a close affiliation,” he said. “My younger brother [who is school-aged] would always sleep with her.
“I live in Faisalabad and she would call me up every day asking if I had offered my prayers, went to work and ate properly. She got us all new clothes and shoes recently and was so caring and loving that all of us five siblings are in tears for the great loss.”
Ms Parveen, who was allegedly killed by members of her own family, was pregnant when she died. Her “crime” was dishonoring that family by marrying a man she loved, Mohammed Iqbal, and eschewing her father’s choice of groom.
The manner of her death has not only shocked the international media, but such was the brutality of her murder – stoned in front of a court where she was petitioning to be free of her family’s will – that this conservative society is in shock. Honour killings are not unheard of, but a woman being stoned to death is.
Yet there is not only anger at the perpetrators. Mr Iqbal also complained that the police had mishandled the situation. “Farzana’s family had lodged an abduction case against us. We had filed a petition in the [Lahore High Court] and were visiting the court for the hearing when that fateful incident happened,” he said, adding that the situation would not have reached this point if local police had taken Ms Parveen’s testimony that she married with consent. He also alleged that local officers took bribes from her relatives and were still threatening his family with dire consequences.
Mr Iqbal’s counsel, Mustafa Kharal, said the future of the case depended upon the police investigation. “The accused [her father] is trying his utmost to save his sons and other family, and that is why he is likely to plead guilty. But a lot depends on the post-mortem report and eyewitnesses’ accounts to implicate others in the case. The accused traveled 150km with guns, implying that it was not done on the spur of the moment.”
Ms Parveen’s father is due to appear in court in Lahore later today. “We’ll challenge the bail,” Mr Kharal said.
Mr Iqbal says he is worried about his father and claims local police have made threats against him. He also claims they have cast doubt on the strength of the case against the accused. “We have to visit the court for a hearing and only then will we know what happens to the case. It is only because of the media attention that the poor folks like us have got some support.”
By Umair Aziz