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Buried alive: Pak orders probe

The Pakistan government says that a high-level police inquiry will be held into an incident in Balochistan province where five women were buried alive, reports Kamal Siddiqui.

world Updated: Aug 31, 2008 00:41 IST
Kamal Siddiqui

The Pakistan government has said that a high-level police inquiry will be held into an incident in Balochistan province where five women were buried alive because three of them had decided to marry out of their own choice.

The incident came to light recently when local media reported that five women were first taken to a desert in Balochistan province, shot and then buried alive for wishing to marry out of their own choice.

De-facto interior minister Rehman Malik told journalists in Islamabad that renowned police officer Tariq Khosa would conduct the investigations.

It is alleged that a younger brother of a federal minister was behind the killing and that it was not the first time he had committed such an act.

However, when the matter was taken up in the Senate, Pakistan’s upper house of parliament, two senior members defended the act saying it was part of Baloch traditions. Senator Israrulla Zehri told a fellow senator, Bibi Yasmin Shah, to keep quiet when she took up the issue. “This is part of our Baloch traditions. We will not let anyone interfere with this,” said Zehri on the floor of the house. Most senators kept quiet when this heated exchange took place.

Deputy chairman of the Senate, Jan Jamali, further said that the matter was “part of Baloch traditions” and he would not comment on the same as one tribe does not comment on the actions of another tribe. Bibi Shah accused the government of covering up the incident because a minister’s brother was involved.

Earlier, information minister Sherry Rehman had said that the government would initiate investigations.

On Saturday, prominent lawyer Asma Jahangir, who is also part of the respected Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said the issue was being shrouded in the cloak of traditions which it was not. “This is murder pure and simple. No middle class Baloch kills his family members on suspicion of them marrying out of their own free will.” Jahangir said that these were fuedals who were trying to justify their illegal actions and should be punished.

The families of the five women are believed to be under pressure not to cooperate with any inquiry by the area's lardlords.