Husband, mother-in-law indicted in grisly murder of woman with dumbbells in Islamabad

In this screengrab taken on September 29, 2022, shows a police official escorting prime accused Shahnawaz Amir (right), in the Sarah Inam murder case, to court in Islamabad. (Photo courtesy: Shahid Saqlain/YouTube)
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Updated 05 December 2022

Husband, mother-in-law indicted in grisly murder of woman with dumbbells in Islamabad

  • The court calls on the prosecution to summon witnesses on December 14, trial to be conducted by same judge who heard grisly murder case of Noor Mukadam 
  • 37-year-old Sarah Inam was allegedly murdered by husband on September 23 after she traveled to Pakistan when Shahnawaz Amir asked for divorce over text messages

ISLAMABAD: A district and sessions court on Monday indicted Shahnawaz Amir and his mother Sameena Shah in the grisly September murder of Pakistani-Canadian Sarah Inam, calling on the prosecution to summon its witnesses on December 14, the Inam family lawyer said.

Inam, a 37-year-old economist who worked in Abu Dhabi, was murdered with dumbbells, according to police, by her husband Shahnawaz Amir at a suburban Islamabad home on September 23.

Inam got married to the Amir of her own choice on July 18 in his hometown of Chakwal. The parents of the couple were not present at the event. Inam’s family has said she had met Amir only thrice before the marriage and had told the parents about the relationship after the marriage.

The indictment was issued by sessions court judge Atta Rabbani after he dismissed Shah’s application seeking to be discharged from the case. 

“Both Amir and Shah have been charged in the murder case and have been informed about all the charges against them,” Inam's family lawyer, Rao Abdul Raheem, told Arab News.

Shah’s lawyer Nisar Asghar said both suspects had pleaded not guilty.

“Shah is charged with abatement to a crime under section 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Amir is charged with murder under section 302 of the PPC,” Asghar told Arab News.

Raheem said the formal trial would now start and the court had asked the prosecutors to present witnesses on December 14.

“We expect that this would be a speedy trial like the Noor Mukadam murder case and the court will decide this case within three to five months,” he said. 

The judge hearing the case was the same one who heard the Mukadam case, the lawyer said, referring to the 27-year-old daughter of a diplomat who was beheaded by a male friend last year in a case that drew an outpouring of anger over femicides in the South Asian nation.

According to the first information report in the Inam murder case, Amir’s mother was present in the house at the time of the murder and had called the police on September 23 and informed them that her son had murdered his wife with a dumbbell. 

The police citation submitted by an investigation officer from Shahzad town police station said following an argument, Amir hit Inam with a showpiece and then hit her repeatedly with a dumbbell which caused her death. 

The police citation also said Amir had told police that after a fight with Inam over the phone while she was still in Abu Dhabi, the suspect had told her he wanted a divorce. This happened two days before the murder. 

Inam then traveled to Pakistan and arrived at Amir’s farmhouse in Chak Shehzad, Islamabad, from Abu Dhabi on September 22. The couple had an argument in Amir’s bedroom as Inam asked him about money she had wired him. The suspect subsequently beat her to death. 

After the murder, the accused dragged Inam’s body to the bathroom and hid it in the bathtub.

Speaking about the decision to indict Shah in the case, Raheem said:

“She [Shah] was present in the house at the time of the murder, and she is the owner of the house where CCTV cameras stopped working just two days prior to the incident.”

The lawyer added: “When she [Inam] was in Abu Dhabi, Amir divorced her through a message on WhatsApp and she then came to Islamabad to know the reasons behind divorcing her in such a way.”

Shah’s lawyer Asghar said the divorce was not finalized as it was just pronounced in a message while legal requirements had not yet been completed. 

“These are two different things, one is pronouncement of the divorce and the other is its completion, which requires issuance of a certificate by the same union council where Nikah took place,” he said.

“It does not mean that divorce has been completed as per the procedure given in the family laws of Pakistan. It was just pronounced but not confirmed and technically by the law, she was not divorced,” Asghar added.

Hundreds of women are killed in Pakistan every year, while thousands more suffer brutal violence. But few cases receive sustained media attention, and only a small fraction of perpetrators are ever punished or convicted by courts.

But Mukadam’s shocking murder, involving members of the privileged elite of Pakistani society, triggered an explosive reaction from women’s rights activists reckoning with pervasive violence.

It also increased pressure for a swift conclusion of the trial in a country known to have a sluggish justice system and where cases typically drag on for years.

Mukadam’s killer Zahir Jaffer received the death sentence in March but has appealed it in a higher court. The case is ongoing.

'Art has no boundaries,' says Pakistani designer Ali Xeeshan on designing Indian actress' dress

Updated 10 sec ago

'Art has no boundaries,' says Pakistani designer Ali Xeeshan on designing Indian actress' dress

  • Bollywood actress Swara Bhasker bought the dress for a whopping Rs1,800,000 ($6,359) from Ali Xeeshan
  • Bhasker—who married an Indian politician last month—wore the dress at her Valima reception this week

KARACHI: Top Pakistani designer Ali Xeeshan, who recently designed a Valima outfit for famous Bollywood actress Swara Bhasker, spoke about their collaboration on Thursday by saying that "art has no boundaries" and that people in both India and Pakistan "have the same DNA."

Bhasker, a prominent Indian actress who has starred in Bollywood flicks such as Raanjhanaa, Tanu Weds Manu, Veere Di Wedding, Manto, and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, tied the knot with Indian politician Fahad Ahmad last month. 

Earlier this week, the two held a Valima reception in the Indian city of Bareilly. In a Twitter post, Bhasker revealed Xeeshan had designed her dress, saying that the Pakistani designer had it delivered to her all the way from Lahore to Bareilly, via Dubai, Bombay and New Delhi.


Bhasker said in her Twitter post that she had "long marveled" at Xeeshan's talent, adding that his "warmth and generosity" made her admire him.

Arch-rivals India and Pakistan have fought three wars over the past seven decades, two times over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir that both sides claim in full but administer only parts of. 

Cultural exchanges between the two nations have almost entirely ceased since August 2019, when India revoked the autonomy of Indian-administered Kashmir. 

“We [Pakistan and India] have the same DNA, we eat the same food, we breath the same air, we are cut from the same cloth,” Xeeshan told Arab News on Thursday. 

“I’m an artist, I am [a] visual person. Art has no boundaries," he said, adding that tensions between the two countries exist due to political reasons. "Our family systems are the same. We are both very passionate nations.” 

Xeeshan says he has a lot of Sikh, Muslim and Hindu clients based in Canada and other parts of the world. 

“Because of internet and social media, the world has become so small. I don’t think these boundaries will last forever," he said. "The passion is there; the mutual admiration is there. This [the boundary] is mostly in our heads.” 

Speaking about the process of getting the dress made, Xeeshan said Bhasker reached out to him a month earlier to discuss the dress. 

“I liked Swara [Bhaskar] anyway. I liked how gutsy and bold she was. Unafraid, unapologetic,” he said, adding that the Bollywood actress informed him she was getting married to a "Muslim boy."

"We just connected. It was easy."

The ivory gold outfit worn by Bhasker on her big day was mutually finalized by Xeeshan, his team and Bhasker. He went to Dubai to deliver the dress and since the actress couldn't travel, Xeeshan's team managed to deliver it to her in India. 

According to Xeeshan, Bhasker bought the dress for a whopping Rs1,800,000 ($6,359).

"It [the outfit] was understated and yet it was flamboyant. I loved how the dupatta was wrapped around her. It was a very Muslim nikkah outfit,” Xeeshan said. “We have named this design Rajkumari so it has that grandeur, that old school charm to it. It wasn’t trying to be a statement outfit.” 

Xeeshan asked Swara to give him a few lines to write on the dupatta (long scarf) for the groom. 

The designer said the dress was hand-made, adding that his team had to bring its most senior artisans on board "whose generations are working with us.” 

The dress, Xeeshan said, was 70% ready when Bhasker placed her order. Usually, he said such "star articles" take about six months to make hence the base is usually prepared while the order is customized according to the client's needs. 

“It was designed and curated considering her personality,” he said. “She just wanted it to be warm. This is something she could give to her next generation, it could be her heirloom piece," Xeeshan added. 

One person dies in stampede for free flour as Ramadan begins in Pakistan

Updated 23 March 2023

One person dies in stampede for free flour as Ramadan begins in Pakistan

  • Eight others were injured during free flour distribution in northwestern Pakistan's Charsadda city
  • Decades-high inflation in Pakistan has pushed prices of basic food items out of many people's reach

PESHAWAR: One person was killed and eight others injured during a stampede for free flour in inflation-wracked Pakistan on Thursday, the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.
The price of basic food items has rocketed in recent months, with inflation at a near 50 year-high as the country grapples with a balance of payments crisis that has seen it forced back into negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.
“Nine people were trampled and were taken to hospital where one person died,” said Muhammad Arif, police chief for Charsadda in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where the incident happened.
Arif said hundreds of people gathered at the local market for the handouts, one of hundreds of distribution points set up by the government during Ramadan.
Millions of low income families across the country are registered under the scheme.
In a nearby district, a man died and four others were injured when a wall they were sitting on collapsed as crowds amassed for free flour.
Authorities told AFP it was not clear why the wall collapsed.
Pakistan’s finances have been wrecked by years of financial mismanagement and political instability — a situation exacerbated by a global energy crisis and devastating floods that left a third of the country under water last year.
The South Asian nation is deeply in debt, and needs to introduce tough tax and utility price increases to unlock another tranche of a $6.5 billion IMF bail-out and avoid defaulting.

Pakistan drafting fuel pricing scheme despite IMF concerns – minister

Updated 23 March 2023

Pakistan drafting fuel pricing scheme despite IMF concerns – minister

  • PM Sharif last week announced government's plans for fuel pricing scheme to help poor
  • Package envisages charging affluent consumers more for fuel, reducing prices for the poor

KARACHI: Pakistan is drafting a fuel pricing scheme aimed at helping the poor, the petroleum minister said, a programme that some economists fear could hinder a crucial International Monetary Fund pay out needed to prevent economic collapse.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif first announced the government's plans for fuel pricing last week.

Petroleum Minister Musadik Malik told Reuters his ministry had been given six weeks to draft the relief package, which envisages charging affluent consumers more for fuel and using that money to reduce prices for the poor who have been hit hard by inflation, which in February was at its highest in 50 years.

"It is not a subsidy. It is a pricing scheme. It is a relief programme for the poor," Malik said. A ministry spokesman said the price difference would be in the range of 100 Pakistani rupees (around 30 U.S. cents) a litre for the rich and the poor.

With enough foreign reserves to only cover about four weeks of necessary imports, Pakistan is desperate for the IMF agreement to disperse a $1.1 billion tranche from a $6.5 billion bailout agreed in 2019.

The government has implemented several fiscal measures, including devaluing the rupee, lifting subsidies and raising energy prices as preconditions for the agreement, which the finance minister said this month was "very close".

The resident IMF representative, Esther Perez Ruiz, said this week that the government did not consult the fund about the fuel pricing scheme.

She said the fund would ask the government for more details about the proposal, including how it will be implemented and what protection would be put in place to prevent abuse.

Asked about the IMF's concerns, Malik said the scheme was not a subsidy. "We haven't heard any concerns from the IMF," he said. "It is same like we did in the gas sector, and that was okay with the IMF," he added.

Earlier this year, the government implemented different prices for natural gas based on the amount of fuel consumed.

Economists said the scheme could derail the progress Pakistan had made so far in negotiations with the IMF.

"It seems this was not discussed with the IMF and, therefore, could delay the staff level agreement," said former central bank deputy governor Murtaza Syed.

($1 = 282.7200 Pakistani rupees)

Babar Azam becomes youngest recipient of Sitara-e-Imtiaz award from Pakistan government

Updated 23 March 2023

Babar Azam becomes youngest recipient of Sitara-e-Imtiaz award from Pakistan government

  • Cricketer Bismah Maroof, ex-captain of national women’s team, gets Tamgha-e-Imtiaz
  • Blind Pakistani cricketer Masood Jan bestowed with the Pride of Performance award

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan captain Babar Azam was awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz, or star of excellence, by the government of Pakistan on Thursday for his services in the field of cricket, making him the youngest person ever to get the award.

The Sitara-e-Imtiaz is the third-highest honor and civilian award in the state of Pakistan, usually given out each year at a ceremony held on March 23, a day celebrated annually to commemorate the adoption of the Lahore Resolution in 1940 which called for the creation of an independent sovereign state for the Muslims of India.

“Immense honor to have received Sitara-e-Imtiaz in the presence of my mother and father,” Azam, 28, wrote in an Instagram post. “This award is for my parents, fans, and the people of Pakistan.”


A post shared by Babar Azam (@babarazam)

“Congratulations on being conferred with civil awards,” the Pakistan Cricket Board wrote in a congratulatory post for Azam on Twitter.

Azam debuted as an international player on May 31, 2015. In November 2020, Pakistan named him their new test captain, putting the batsman in charge of teams across all formats.

In April 2021, while playing against South Africa in the first one-day international (ODI), Babar scored his 13th ODI century in his 76th innings, making him the quickest player to reach this mark. At the end of the series, he broke Indian batter Virat Kohli’s record with 865 points to become the world’s number-one batter, retaining the position for 1,258 days.

On April 14, 2021, Azam scored his maiden T20I century (122), in a winning cause against South Africa at the Centurion Stadium. On April 25, 2021, in the third T20I against Zimbabwe, he became the fastest batsman in terms of innings to score 2,000 runs in T20Is, doing so in his 52nd innings.

Azam has won several accolades during his career, including the ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year 2021 and 2022, and the ICC Cricketer of the Year (Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy) 2022.

Pakistani cricketer Bismah Maroof, the ex-captain of the national women’s team, was also awarded the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, or the medal of excellence, for her services in the field of cricket on Thursday. 

The government also recognized blind Pakistani cricketer Masood Jan and bestowed him with the Pride of Performance award. The title recognizes people with notable achievements in the fields of art, science, literature, sports, and nursing.

All eyes on Supreme Court after Pakistan election regulator postpones polls in Punjab

Updated 20 min 58 sec ago

All eyes on Supreme Court after Pakistan election regulator postpones polls in Punjab

  • Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies were dissolved in January by ex-PM Khan and allies to force early national polls
  • Pakistan’s constitution says elections be held within 90 days after dissolution of an assembly, a rule Supreme Court upheld last month

ISLAMABAD: Most Pakistani legal and political experts said on Thursday the election commission’s decision to postpone general elections in Punjab until October would deepen political instability in the country, calling on the Supreme Court to settle the matter in light of constitutional provisions. 

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday announced the postponement of provincial polls in Punjab from April 30 to October 8, infuriating the party of former prime minister Imran Khan, who has been demanding early national elections since his ouster from power in a no-trust vote in April last year.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and its allies dissolved the provincial assemblies of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces in January to mount pressure on the government to hold snap national polls across the country. The two regions account for more than half of the country’s 220 million population. Under Pakistani law, fresh polls for the two provincial assemblies should be held within 90 days of their dissolution and Khan’s PTI was gambling on the national government being unable to afford to hold the provincial elections separately from a national election, which is otherwise due by October.

Earlier this month, in a landmark ruling, Pakistan’s top court also said general elections in the two provinces should be held within 90 days. President Dr Arif Alvi subsequently announced April 30 as the date for Punjab Assembly elections after much political wrangling and consultations in recent weeks.

However, the ECP said on Wednesday it was not possible to hold free, fair and peaceful elections in April for several reasons, including a rise in militant attacks in the country in recent months. The PTI has announced it will challenge the decision in the Supreme Court.

“The ECP decision will cause anarchy and lead the country to further instability and chaos,” Barrister Ali Zafar, a former law minister who has served as a lawyer for ex-PM Khan in many cases, told Arab News, saying the election commission had “deliberately” violated the constitution and defied a recent Supreme Court verdict to hold the provincial polls within the 90-day limit.

“It is now a defining moment in history, and the Supreme Court will be the last line of defense with the support of the public,” Zafar said. “The ECP does not have any jurisdiction to overrule the Supreme Court judgment or change the constitution.”

Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, the senior vice president of Khan’s PTI party, who is also a lawyer, also slammed the decision of the ECP.

"The Supreme Court judges must take a firm stance on the issue since the people of Pakistan will stand behind them," he said. "If the superior judiciary fails to do that, it will be the beginning of a dark age in Pakistan."

Political analyst Aasiya Riaz said the postponement would exacerbate political chaos in the country, and the Supreme Court would have to step in again and push for a resolution as political parties had failed to resolve their differences.

"It is this very failure of engagement among political stakeholders that has brought us to this political crisis in the first place, which may have long-term consequences for the country," she added.

However, Pakistan’s former attorney general, Irfan Qadir, who is currently a special assistant to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on legal reforms, endorsed the ECP’s postponement decision and said the body had not violated the constitution.

“Under the constitution, the responsibility for conducting elections rests with the ECP, which also needs to determine the appropriate election time,” he told Arab News, adding that general elections could also be held on the same day across Pakistan in October.

Qadir agreed that the constitution stipulated a 90-day timeframe for holding elections as a general rule, but it also allowed flexibility under “certain circumstances.”

“Article 254 of the constitution and the 14th paragraph of the Supreme Court verdict also said that if the 90-day period could not be met, elections should be held as soon as possible,” he added. “The ECP feels the earliest possible date for holding elections is in October, so it has not acted in contempt of court or violated the constitution.” 

Ahmad Bilal Mahboob, the president of Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), said Section 58 of the Elections Act, 2017, authorized the ECP to alter or give a new election schedule in "extraordinary circumstances."

"The ECP can invoke Section 58 only in extraordinary circumstances, and now it has to record reasons for changing the schedule and inform the Pakistani president, according to the law," he told Arab News.

"In all likelihood, the Supreme Court will adjudicate whether such extraordinary conditions existed and whether Section 58 could be used for election postponement for six months."

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Federal Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar called the ECP’s decision to postpone the Punjab Assembly polls the “best decision” as holding separate general elections in two provinces amid economic turmoil and mounting security challenges would cause greater political instability.

“According to Article 224 of the constitution, general elections should be held at the same time across the country, while the same article also allows polls to be postponed under extraordinary circumstances,” the law minister said.

Referring to an ongoing census exercise, he said the military also had to provide security to census workers.

"Should the army provide security during the census, fight against terrorism, or supervise election security?” Tarar said. “If elections are held in this political heat, they will be marred with bloodshed.”