LAHORE, Pakistan — The husband of the pregnant woman stoned and beaten to death in Pakistan killed his first wife four years ago, police and relatives said Thursday, a shocking twist showing how dangerous life is for women there.
A mob of relatives, including her father and brothers, beat and stoned Farzana Parveen, 25, to death Tuesday in the eastern city of Lahore as onlookers watched, authorities said. Initially, many in Pakistan offered condolences to Parveen’s husband, Mohammed Iqbal, 45.
Parveen’s father was arrested afterward and confessed to having killed his daughter because she had married a man of her choice, defying the family’s wishes.
At the time of the killing, the couple, who wed Jan. 7, were headed to the high court in Lahore to contest a criminal complaint filed by Parveen’s father, who accused Iqbal of abducting his daughter. “My wife wanted to tell the court that I had not kidnapped her,” Iqbal said earlier in the week.
On Thursday, Zulfiqar Hameed, deputy inspector general for Punjab police, said authorities arrested Iqbal in the October 2009 killing of his first wife, Ayesha Bibi. Hameed could not offer details about the slaying but said the case was withdrawn after Bibi’s children forgave their father.
Under Pakistani law, those charged with a slaying can see their criminal case dropped if relatives of the slain forgive them or accept so-called “blood money” offerings for the crime.
Reached at his village near Jaranwala, Iqbal said Thursday he could not speak because he was praying at his second wife’s grave.
One of Iqbal’s five children, Aurang Zeb, said his father killed his mother in 2009 over a dispute.
“We don’t want to discuss whatever had happened in the past, but I confirm that we had forgiven our father Iqbal,” Zeb said, adding that his father was in shock after his second wife’s death.
Two of Iqbal’s cousins also said he killed his first wife.
Pakistan, home to some 180 million people, is an overwhelmingly Muslim nation, and the majority have been fairly conservative. Arranged marriages are the norm among conservative Pakistanis, and hundreds of women are slain every year in so-called honor killings carried out by husbands or relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit sexual behavior that is perceived to bring shame upon her family.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a private group, said in a report last month that 869 women died in honor killings in 2013.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday called Farzana Parveen’s slaying “intolerable.” He urged authorities in Punjab province to find the remaining culprits.
Navi Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, also condemned the slaying, saying she didn’t want to call it an honor killing as “there is not the faintest vestige of honor in killing a woman in this way.” She called on Pakistan’s government to stop the slayings.
“The fact that she was killed on her way to court, shows a serious failure by the state to provide security for someone who — given how common such killings are in Pakistan — was obviously at risk,” Pillay said.