A teenage girl was mercilessly stabbed to death allegedly by her fiance in Punjab's Khanewal district on Friday, in what police suspect is a case of 'honour killing'.
According to police, the incident took place in Khanewal's Kabirwala tehsil where the suspect, a paternal cousin of the deceased 16-year-old girl, on the pretext of coming over for a visit, entered her bedroom and demanded that she hand over her mobile phone.
When the girl denied having one, her fiance started searching her frantically. Upon not finding one, not only did he brutally slit her throat, but also stabbed her several times in her chest and stomach, according to police.
Editorial: Rise in ‘honour’ crimes
The two families live next to one another. When the suspect was fleeing, his brother standing outside the houses was alerted by the screams emanating from the girl's house.
He saw a knife in the suspect's hand and moved towards him. The suspect, out of fear of being caught, stabbed his own brother.
The suspect's brother is in a critical condition and has been moved to Multan for treatment, police said.
Meanwhile, a case has been registered by police on a complaint of the girl's father under Section 302 (punishment for murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Saddar Police Station in Kabirwala.
The girl's body was sent to Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) hospital in Kabirwala for a post-mortem examination.
The suspect remains at large but Kabirwala DSP Maher Waseem said a team has been formed to track him down. He was confident that by Saturday morning, the suspect would be in police custody.
Honour killings continue despite law
Scores of people in Pakistan — an overwhelming majority of them being women — are still being murdered by relatives for bringing 'shame' on their family, more than two years since new laws came into force aimed at stemming the menace of 'honour killings'.
In October 2016, a joint sitting of both houses of parliament passed two key pro-women bills that had been pending assent for a long time.
The move at that time was cautiously hailed by women's rights activists. More than two years on, however, lawyers and activists say honour killings are still occurring at an alarming pace.
At least 280 such murders were recorded by the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan from October 2016 to June 2017 ─ a figure believed to be understated and incomplete.
The legislation mandates life imprisonment for honour killings, but whether a murder can be defined as a crime of honour is left to the judge's discretion.
That means the culprits can simply claim another motive and still be pardoned, according to Dr Farzana Bari, a widely respected activist.