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Death of 16-Yr-Old Pakistan Girl, Who Was Burnt Alive, Challenges the Propriety of Islam Parental Custom

( [email protected] ) May 07, 2016 01:50 PM EDT
The death of the 16-year-old girl, who was drugged and burnt alive simply because she helped a couple elope, jolted every Pakistani, but as new evidence traced that it was a so-called "honor killing" with a "jirga"- an outlawed tribunal council - anger swept the country.
Members of a tribal council accused of ordering the burning death of a 16 year old girl are shown to the media after they were arrested by police in Donga Gali, outside Abbottabad, Pakistan May 5, 2016. REUTERS

The death of the 16-year-old girl, who was drugged and burnt alive simply because she helped a couple elope, jolted every Pakistani, but as new evidence traced that it was a so-called "honor killing" with a "jirga"- an outlawed tribunal council - anger swept the country.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called it barbaric, un-Islam, inhuman and a plain murder. His outrage was shared by the mayor of Makol where the gruesome murder of Ambreen Riasat happened.

Pakistani People's Party Chairman and son of the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto said Ambreem's murder calls for a revolt against 'jirga.'

Police have arrested last Thursday14 village leaders who comprised the council, and the girl's mother after admitting helping them convene. They were shackled and blindfolded when presented to the media.

Jirgas convened in conservative rural areas to settle disputes between poor families. Though outlawed, and as such has no legal personality, villagers often honour their decisions.

Human Rights groups said men in jirgas would often barter women, and hand down punishments that include rape and forced marriage of young girls.

Riasat was found burned inside a van in the tourist resort of Donga Gali on April 29, the Associated Press reported. She was reportedly punished for helping a friend secretly marry her boyfriend - a defiance to Islamic and parental customs. Her death seized headlines of Pakistan's newspapers for days.

"This barbarity has never happened before," Makol mayor Zardad Khan. Makol is only 50 km from the capital Islamabad and many thinks that Riasat's murder undermines Pakistan's justice system.

Over 5,000 people inhabit the village, and some said they have no history of "honor killing."

"Everyone in the village is just confused and stunned, and now there is a sort of fear that I have never seen before," said Sardar Naseer Ahmed, 33, a businessman.