Young Pakistani seeking justice for ‘honor killings’ shot dead by nephew, police say

Mohammed Afzal, left, also known as Afzal Kohistani, was shot dead on Wednesday in the northwestern district of Abbottabad, area police chief Abbas Majeed said. (Photo courtesy: muhammad.afzalsaleh/Facebook)
Updated 08 March 2019

Young Pakistani seeking justice for ‘honor killings’ shot dead by nephew, police say

  • Activist Afzal Kohistani, was shot dead in Abbottabad on Wednesday
  • More than 1,000 women are killed in Pakistan each year in honor killings

PESHAWAR: Pakistani police on Friday identified the suspected killer of a young rights campaigner, who fought for seven years for justice for five possible victims of so-called honor killings, as his nephew.
Mohammed Afzal, 31, also known as Afzal Kohistani, was shot dead on Wednesday in the northwestern district of Abbottabad, area police chief Abbas Majeed said.
“We have arrested an accused from the scene of the crime and recovered a pistol from him,” he said.
He identified the suspect as Afzal’s nephew. The accused was not available for comment and police offered no motive or explanation for his alleged involvement.
Police have registered a case against him recommending he be charged with murder, Majeed said.
More than 1,000 women are killed in Pakistan each year in honor killings. They often occur when a girl refuses an arranged marriage or chooses her own husband. But women have also been killed for talking to men, wearing jeans or leaving abusive homes.
Many are executed on the orders of male tribal councils called jirgas, which have also handed down sentences of rape or mutilation.
Afzal made headlines in 2012, claiming a tribal council had ordered the execution of four women and two of his brothers after a grainy video emerged of the group singing and clapping to music in the remote Pallas Valley in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
A fifth girl, 12 years old, was killed for talking to her sister after the sentence had been passed, he said.
While the case was being heard in court in 2013, three of Afzal’s brothers — including the two in the video — were killed. The family’s land was seized and their home burned down.
What happened to the five women remains a mystery. Two out of three investigators at the time concluded after a hurried investigation that they were alive and the matter was dropped.
But a witness told Reuters in 2013 that the women had been killed.
They were never produced before any court, and although investigators were able to take photos and fingerprints of some of them, these were never compared to their national identity cards.
Afzal’s killing sparked online tributes from Pakistan’s small but vocal civil society. Opposition lawmakers Sherry Rehman said she would take up his death in parliament

Pakistanis played role in Kingdom’s ‘brilliant transformation,’ says former Saudi Airlines manager

Updated 35 min 19 sec ago

Pakistanis played role in Kingdom’s ‘brilliant transformation,’ says former Saudi Airlines manager

  • Most of the pilots in Saudi Airlines in the 70’s were from Pakistan, says Shujaat Hussain Hamidi
  • Says misses life in Saudi Arabia, even years after retirement

KARACHI: A retired, long-time Pakistani employee of Saudi Airlines said Pakistanis had a role to play in Saudi Arabia’s “brilliant transformation,” from the 70's to the present day, and that it was primarily due to the Kingdom’s professional culture of merit and teamwork.

Shujaat Hussain Hamidi came to Saudi Arabia following the OIC summit of 1974, after which Saudi King Faisal, on the request of then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, offered a large number of visas to Pakistanis. Subsequently, Hamidi became one of the thousands of skilled and professional Pakistanis who moved to Saudi Arabia for work.

Shujaat Hussain Hamidi, a former general manager sales of the Saudi Airlines, is talking to Arab News at his residence in Karachi on November 17, 2019 (AN Photo)

“When I first reached the kingdom it was a desert with few roads and infrastructure. Saudi Arabia’s visionary leadership, however, turned it into a modern and progressive country,” he said, and added: “I may not be wrong to say that Pakistani professionals and the great Saudi values of professionalism and merit...played a role in this brilliant transformation.”

In this file photo, Station Manager Saudi Airlines Tabuk is giving away best of sales award to the airline’s official Shujaat Hussain Hamidi in 1984 (Photo by Shujaat Hussain Hamidi)

In the 70's, nearly 2,000 Pakistanis joined Saudi Airlines, founded in 1945, in different capacities as aircraft engineers, technicians, ground services staff, passenger handlers, pilots, stewards, and stewardesses.

“When I joined Saudi Airlines in 1974, it had a few small aircrafts flying to a few stations. Today it has a massive infrastructure with a fleet of 154 planes flying to more than 95 destinations and is considered one of the world’s most successful airlines,” Hamidi, who retired as a senior regional manager in 2010, told Arab News.

In this file photo, Shujaat Hussain Hamidi, a former official of the Saudi Airlines, can be seen with Governor Tabuk prince Abdul Majeed Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud on the inauguration of newly added airbus A-300 into the fleet at Tabuk Airport in 1980 (Photo by Shujaat Hussain Hamidi)

“The credit goes to a culture of merit, professionalism, dedication, and teamwork,” he said and added that Pakistani professionals had played their own role in the Kingdom’s development.

“Pakistanis made up the majority of pilots for the airline (Saudi Airlines) in the 70’s,” Hamidi added.

In this file photo, Shujaat Hussain Hamidi can be seen attending the board of directors’ meeting of the Saudi Arabian Airlines in 1995 (Photo by Shujaat Hussain Hamidi)

Now, as he lives out his retirement in Pakistan’s sprawling southern metropolis of Karachi with his family, Hamidi said he still misses his life in Saudi Arabia.

“There was always a sense of job security, ease of mind and a tension-free life,” Hamidi said, and added Saudi Arabia was so safe, he could leave the country for vacations with his home unlocked.

In this file photo, Shujaat Hussain Hamidi is receiving award from former station manager at Tabuk city of Saudi Arabia in 1979 (Photo by Shujaat Hussain Hamidi)

“We would take our necessary luggage and leave for Pakistan without any worries about the valuables we left at our home in Saudi Arabia,” Hamidi recalls nostalgically.

As president of the Pakistan welfare society, Hamidi said he had also had the chance to interact with envoys and Saudi officials for discussions on how to resolve the problems of the Pakistani expat community, and said he was amazed at the compassion Saudis had for Pakistanis.

In this file photo, Shujaat Hussain Hamidi is sitting with Pakistan’s former Army Chief General (R) Jehangir Karamat – then a brigadier – during the best of region sales award event in Tabuk in 1985 (Photo by Shujaat Hussain Hamidi)

 “I am witness to cases in which Saudi officials had spent one million riyals on the treatment of one ailing Pakistani,” he said.

“This is a testament of the strong bonds these two nations have,” Hamidi said and added that even though the government-to-government ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were always strong, the bond between the masses was most unique.

In this undated photo, Shujaat Hussain Hamidi (R) is seated at the stage during an event on the occasion of the birthday of Indian Muslim leader Sir Syed Ahmed Khan being organized by former students of Aligarh Muslim University India at Tabuk, Saudi Arabia (Photo by Shujaat Hussain Hamidi)

“I remember the day when Pakistan conducted underground nuclear tests in May 1998,” Hamidi said.

“The Saudis were very happily celebrating. It was like their own country had become a nuclear power.”