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Karachi

September 13, 2017

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Hunt on for tribal elder who pushed  for teenage couple’s electrocution

Hunt on for tribal elder who pushed  for teenage couple’s electrocution

The Karachi police on Tuesday were hunting a tribal elder who ordered a teenage couple to be electrocuted by their families as punishment for eloping, in the country’s latest gruesome ‘honour’ killing.

The couple, members of the Pashtun ethnic group living in the southern city of Karachi, fell foul of their families after attempting to elope last month. But police said the man’s family persuaded them to return home so they could be married.

A tribal jirga (council) then ordered the couple’s execution after the families had put their case to the influential group of elders. The couple were tied to a wooden bed and electrocuted by family members. Police said the girl was aged 15 or 16 and the man was around 18 years old.

“The (jirga) decided that the girl would be electrocuted by her own father and uncle and the boy by his father and uncle,” police officer Amanullah Marwat told AFP, adding that the families later buried the bodies in secret. Jirgas commonly adjudicate in communal disputes in rural Pakistan, especially in the northern tribal belt, but are rare in cities.

However the bustling port city of Karachi is home to large numbers of migrants from the tribal territories, where jirgas are held in high esteem. Police have arrested the relatives behind the killings, charging them with murder and tampering with evidence. However, the leader of the jirga who ordered the murders remains at large.

“We are raiding different places to arrest him,” Marwat said. Hundreds of women are murdered by their relatives each year after allegedly bringing shame on their families in the deeply conservative Muslim country.

Under previous legislation the culprits – usually men – could escape punishment if they were pardoned by members of their family. But in July last year the high-profile murder of social media star Qandeel Baloch, whose brother confessed to the killing, reignited calls for reform.

Pakistan’s parliament has since passed a law aimed at scrapping the ability to forgive ‘honour’ killers but critics contend some loopholes still exist.  — AFP News Desk adds: The area where this atrocity played out was Ali Brohi Goth, a locality in the suburbs of Karachi that falls with the jurisdiction of the Ibrahim Hyderi police. 

As per information garnered from local residents and police sources, the wheels of tribal ‘justice’ were set in motion on August 14, the day the country celebrated 70 years of its existence. 

The girl, 15-year-old Bakht Taj, daughter of Hikmat Khan, had allegedly attempted to elope with 17-year-old Rehman, son of Muhammad Afzal. Both families belong to the Safi sub-clan of the Mohmand tribe and reside in Ali Brohi Goth.

Sources who followed the developments told The News that an agreement had been reached between the two families and the couple was to be properly married off. Along with promising to give two of his daughters for marriage, the boy’s father, Afzal, had offered to bear all the expenses of Taj and Rehman’s wedding and also give cattle as compensation. 

To conclude the matter, over a dozen elders of the Mohmand tribe residing in Ali Brohi Goth, Sherpao Colony and Muslimabad gathered on August 15. 

It was there that a staunchly conservative elder, Sartaj Khan alias Shagalai, raised objections to the agreement. In his rigid view, the jirga had to punish the teenagers to discourage such acts in the future and their families had to be the ones to kill their children, all to save their and the tribe’s ‘honour’.

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