Pakistani man kills wife, two children, six others in alleged honor killing

Members of civil society protest against a recent "honor" killing in Islamabad, Pakistan on May 29, 2014. (Reuters / File)
Updated 02 July 2019

Pakistani man kills wife, two children, six others in alleged honor killing

  • The deaths add to hundreds of honor killing cases reported each year
  • Pakistan adopted legislation against honor killings in 2016, closing legal lacunae and introducing tough punishment

LAHORE: A man shot his wife, their two children, and six of her family members on Monday and then burned the bodies when he set her family’s home on fire in an alleged honor killing in central Pakistan, police said.
Muhammad Ajmal committed the attack as revenge for a suspected affair by his wife Kiran, said Imran Mehmood, a District Police Officer for the city of Multan, where the killings occurred. Ajmal returned to Pakistan from Saudi Arabia, where he worked as a tailor, 25 days ago intending to carry out the killings, he said.
Mehmood said Ajmal confessed to the killings.
“This is clearly an honor killing. He saw a picture of his wife with another man and believed she was having an affair,” Mehmood said. “He does not repent his actions.”
In addition to killing his wife and their two children, Ajmal also killed his three sisters-in-law, two of their children, and his mother-in-law.
Ajmal and his father, who was with him at the time of the murder, are both in custody and have been charged with murder, Mehmood said. Police are searching for his brother, who is also believed to be involved.
The deaths add to the hundreds of women and girls killed in Pakistan each year, according to human rights groups, by family members angered at the perceived damage to their honor, which may involve eloping, fraternizing with men or any infringement of conservative values regarding women.
Kiran’s brother Ali Raza told Reuters that Ajmal and his sister were having marital problems and she had recently moved back to Pakistan and was living with her family.
“I am left with just my father, my whole family is gone,” he said.
Mehmood said Ajmal has not been assigned an attorney yet and Reuters was unable to contact any of his family members for a comment.
Pakistan adopted legislation against honor killings in 2016, introducing tough punishment and closing a legal loophole that allowed killers to walk free if pardoned by family members.
Police in Pakistan’s most populous province of Punjab, where honor crimes have been rampant, said recently that the number of such killings had fallen since the law was introduced but rights groups estimate that nearly 1,000 such killings take place annually.


Chilgoza prices in Pakistan go nuts as exports soar

Updated 17 November 2019

Chilgoza prices in Pakistan go nuts as exports soar

  • Pine nuts are selling for as high as Rs. 8,500 ($55) per kilogram in the capital, Islamabad
  • Around 20 percent of Pakistan’s forests comprise of pine nut trees, with most of the dry fruit exported to the Middle East, China and US

ISLAMABAD: Every evening, farmer Muhammad Ali climbs up the mountains in Pakistan’s northern Diamer district through a narrow unpaved road to bring down at least two sacks of pine nuts, called chilgozas locally, collected by workers hard at work during the day.
Around 20 percent of Pakistan’s forests comprise of chilgoza trees, with the country producing 15 percent of the world’s total pine nuts at between 3,500 to 4,000 metric tons annually. However, most of these are exported to the Middle East, China, the US, UK and Europe, leaving behind a short supply of exceedingly high priced nuts for local consumption selling in the capital, Islamabad, for approximately Rs. 8,500 ($55) per kilogram this season, according to traders.
In Diamer- one of the country’s main production regions for pine nuts- the price is lower at Rs. 3,200 ($21) per kilogram, but remains prohibitively expensive for most locals.
“The chilgoza has been in high demand since winter began,” Sheraz Khan, a dry fruit trader in one of Islamabad’s most upscale markets, told Arab News.
“We are selling it at Rs. 8,500 ($55) per kilogram, and customers are buying it without even haggling,” he said.
Khan, however, said that the majority of his chilgoza customers were foreigners including Chinese people.
“It is quite a difficult and hectic process to pick chilgozas from pine trees up in the mountains, but it is worth the labor,” farmer Ali told Arab News.
“This year, the yield and rates [of chilgoza] are very good,” he said. “I hope to earn enough to pay the school fees of my three kids and fund other routine expenses during the year.”
Laborers and other people connected to the pine nut industry are also reaping the monetary benefits of the highly priced nuts, he said.
The high demand and price of chilgozas in the market has additionally increased awareness of the nuts’ value, and kickstarted a conversation about the preservation of the trees in order to safeguard their environment for the future. 
“The pine trees are a source of livelihood for the locals,” Ali said. “Therefore they have formed local committees to protect them from illegal loggers and the timber mafia.”
Pine nut trees are found in Pakistan’s north and southwestern provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, including in the northern areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir. The tree is hard and tall, and can endure excessive drought, high winds, and severe cold in the winter. 
Pine-nut harvesting begins in September. Locals collect the green cones from trees and spread them under the open sky to let them dry in the sun for more than two weeks. Each cone contains between 15 to 20 pine nuts depending on its size. It is then processed through a machine for quality grading before being sold in the market, with the nuts usually eaten raw or roasted.