Brits to the rescue

One wonders whether we need the help of the British media to get them to reach their logical conclusion

Kamal Siddiqi August 14, 2016
The writer is Editor of The Express Tribune

Why did it take an article in a British newspaper to jolt the Punjab police into action in the murder case of Samia Shahid? It was an article in The Telegraph that woke the world to the killing of this Bradford beautician whose only crime it seems was to marry against her family’s wishes.

In its article, the British paper wrote that the Punjab police had botched the initial investigation into the killing of a British woman of Pakistani origin, who was found dead inside her family home in Jhelum in July by focusing on her marital status instead of chasing potential leads.

Samia’s second husband told the paper that his wife had been murdered for honour by her own family while visiting her ancestral home in Jhelum on July 20 in revenge for her divorce and remarriage. Till then, Samia’s father Chaudhry Shahid, during initial investigation, had denied any charges that his daughter was killed for honour and insisted that she had died of natural causes.

This week, finally we were told that Samia’s former spouse, Chaudhry Shakeel, had confessed to strangling her. Shakeel told investigators that he had killed Samia by suffocating her.

His abettor in this crime was none other than Samia’s father, Chaudhry Shahid. Samia’s crime it seems was that she had married a Shia man.

While the two have now been arrested, one wonders how this trial will progress. Already the government remains intent on burying the case.

The media was barred from entering the courtroom and the hearing did not last more than two minutes with the judge remanding the suspects in police custody for four days. After all, this case is now bringing a bad name to Pakistan.

One can only wonder at how such a crime was committed in the first place. As a nation, have we lost all sense of humanity? How can a father help in the murder of his own daughter? In Pakistan, it seems that this type of crime is rising given that women are also trying to break away from the age-old shackles that their male-dominated society has placed on them for centuries.

It is ironic that on the one hand the family claims to have killed in the name of honour but then lies to the authorities about it. Samia’s family claimed she had suffered a heart attack. It was Samia’s husband, Kazim Mukhtar, who alerted the authorities, believing his wife had been murdered over honour because the family did not approve of their marriage. But the Punjab police continued to dilly dally.

Till then, the police could not find anything wrong. The investigation team visited the crime scene to collect evidence. Three suspects of the case were called to Lahore where they were investigated by using modern techniques (polygraph). In all this, the Punjab police treated Saima’s death as unsuspicious. Possibly till then the police had already made its deal with the family and taken money to hush up the case.

This despite the fact that Dr Shaukat Mehmood, the medical superintendent of DHQ Jhelum, in a forensic report had confirmed that Samia had been murdered. The report clearly stated that her death was caused by suffocation.

It was only after the report in the British newspaper that the chief minister swung into action and ordered a special investigation into the case.  Finally, Samia’s father, Chaudhry Shahid, former husband, Chaudhry Shakeel, and a cousin, Mobin, were interviewed by an investigation team comprising DIG Malik Abu Bakar, Punjab Constabulary, SP Khuda Baksh and SP Basheer Cheema. Police spokeswoman Nabeela Ghazanfar told the media that the government was treating the “very high-profile case with high priority.”

The shameless Chaudhry Shahid first said that his daughter had died of natural causes. Then he went on to change his statement and said that she had committed suicide. It was only after the police put pressure on him that his accomplice, Samia’s first husband, reportedly confessed to strangling his former wife with her dupatta for being immoral. He said he tried to convince Samia many times to end her marriage with Kazim Mukhtar, but when she refused he finally killed her.

Given the rise in such cases all over Pakistan, one wonders whether we need the help of the British media to get them to reach their logical conclusion.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2016.

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Toti calling | 7 years ago | Reply I agree what the author is saying. It is a sad reflection on our cultural traditions where woman is nothing but a slave of family men. Many more such cases happen without many knowing it outside the family circle. Mentioning British press and call from PM May to CM Punjab helped because Sharif's family has property and business connection in England and does not want to upset British authorities. It is shameful, but true.
Shahid | 7 years ago | Reply The media should also keep following and breaking the story till it reaches its logical conclusion.
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