ISLAMABAD, Sept 12: The Senate committee on human rights has condemned the killing of five women who were allegedly buried alive.
At a meeting held here on Friday, it also criticised the slow pace of investigation and directed the Balochistan police chief to submit a credible report within a month. The committee also warned police against covering up the case.
Police have given a new twist to the incident and claimed it was not a case of ‘honour killing’, but the result of an ‘old feud’ between two tribal families with considerable political influence.
The area’s deputy inspector-general of police told the committee that three women had been killed. They belonged to the Rahmanzai tribe which had an old enmity with Sadiq Umrani and according to his information, the incident was first reported in the media by Mr UmraniÂ’s younger brother. He felt that it was a case of murder and not of ‘Karo-Kari’ (Siahkari). Had it been a case of honour k illing, the murderer would have surrendered himself to police by now, he said.
Fearing that the investigators might cover up the crime, some senators accused them of protecting the influential political figures who had tried to bury the case after burying the innocent women alive.
The meeting was attended by Interior Secretary Syed Kamal Shah, IG Balochistan Asif Nawaz and the Chairman of the National Police Foundation.
A committee member said the involvement of provincial minister Sadiq Umrani and Nazim of Naseerabad district Sardar Akhtar Ali Umrani had been established, adding that the women had earlier been arrested by police on the directives of the minister. One of whom was still missing while the other were released.
The issue first came to public notice in July when a Quetta newspaper published a report.
Senator Bibi Yasmeen Shah of the PML-Q, who had raised the issue in Senate, told the meeting that Senator Israrullah Zehri had threatened her with dire consequences for having taken up the matter.
The committee condemned the Balochistan senator for threatening a fellow legislator. He had earlier stunned everyone by saying in Senate that the killing and burying alive of women were part of the Baloch tribal tradition.
The meeting, which was presided over by Senator S.M. Zafar, directed the law-enforcement agencies of Balochistan to ensure early arrest of the criminals.
Among others, the meeting was attended by Leader of the House in Senate Mian Raza Rabbani, PML-Q Secretary-General Mushahid Hussain, Dr Khalid Ranjha, Saeed Hashmi, ANP’s Haji Mohammad Adeel and Maulana Samiul Haq of the JUI-S.
Senator Talha Mehmood called for immediate arrest of the district Nazim and the provincial minister. Another lawmaker demanded to know the whereabouts of the owner of the taxi which was used by the criminals. The taxi-owner is said to be a police official. He questioned why the members of the Jirga which had ordered the women’s killing were still at large.
Senator Abdul Rahim Mandokhel said that it appeared to be a case of political rivalry and not of ‘SiahkariÂ’ because the ‘Siahkar’ was missing.
Haji Adeel said that usually man and woman both were ‘punished’ for adultery, but in this case there was no mention of a man.
Tariq Khosa, the investigation officer appointed by the federal government, said that while the government could not interfere in the investigation which was the sole prerogative of the provincial government, it could ask FIA to investigate.
IG Balochistan Asif Nawaz said that the parents of the deceased women had ‘refused’ to cooperate with the teams probing into the incident.
The chairman of the committee said it should be first established if it was really a case of honour-killing, adding that justifying the killing of women in the name of tribal traditions would not be tolerated.