PESHAWAR: The father and brother of two teenage sisters who were shot dead in North Waziristan after their cellphone video with a man appearing online had been arrested, police said on Monday, drawing praise from women rights activists.
The man who recorded the video has also been arrested, while a relative suspected of carrying out the killings is still at large, said local district police officer Shafiullah Gandapur.
The sisters, aged 16 and 18, were shot dead on Thursday.
Hundreds of women are killed every year in Pakistan by family members because they are seen to damage the “honor” which can involve eloping, associating with men or other violations of conservative values governing women’s humility.
Many such killings are not reported, but the death of social media star Qandeel Baloch 2016 at the hands of his brother sparked heated debate about their prevalence and encouraged the government to tighten the law.
The police are under increasing pressure to investigate these crimes.
“Our intentions are sincere. “We first heard about the incident through social media and decided to confirm it,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone from North Waziristan.
“We reached the crime scene and found traces of blood and blood stained cloth. We arrested the brother and father of the two girls who were killed and today captured Umar Ayaz, who made the video. “
Gulalai Ismail, a Pakistani women’s rights activist exiled in the United States, said the swift action by police in filing a case a day after the murder was “a victory for tribal women” in the provincial area.
“In such crimes, time is very important,” he said. “And if this is postponed, like seven such killings that took place earlier this month, the incident is quickly swept under the carpet, with many dying as suicides or natural deaths.”
Human rights experts say enforcement of justice is often weak in cases involving violence against women, with the process being withdrawn while the accused murderer is released on bail and cases fade.
That is especially true in remote areas, which are socially conservative such as North Waziristan, where women enjoy little freedom and local customs are often more influential than federal law.
“Before 2018, such killings were not considered crimes in the tribal areas, nor were they reported,” he said. Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal areas are only under full federal jurisdiction in 2018.
Ismail said a tribal leader had urged local residents to punish teenagers shown in the video after it appeared online.
“In a tribal code of ethics, the punishment for actions like this is always murder,” he said.
The whereabouts of a third girl who also appeared in the video is unknown, Ismail said, adding: “She also needs protection.”
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