ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday ordered Punjab officials to take "immediate action" over the brutal murder of a pregnant woman bludgeoned to death outside a top court.
Farzana Parveen was attacked on Tuesday outside the High Court building in Lahore by more than two dozen brick-wielding attackers, including her brother and father, for marrying against the wishes of her family.
The fact that police officers guarding the court apparently did nothing to intervene to save the 25-year-old has added to the outrage.
Nawaz Sharif told Punjab Chief Minister, his brother Shahbaz Sharif, to act. "I am directing the chief minister to take immediate action and report must be submitted by this evening to my office," the prime minister said in a statement released by his office.
"This crime is totally unacceptable and must be dealt with in accordance with law promptly."
Meanwhile, the husband of the pregnant woman murdered his first wife, he told AFP on Thursday, in a twist to a story that has shocked rights activists.
Parveen's husband Mohammad Iqbal, 45, has admitted killing his first wife. "I was in love with Farzana and killed my first wife because of this love," adding that he had strangled her.
Iqbal said he was spared a prison term because his son - who alerted police to the murder - later forgave him under controversial blood-money laws.
After admitting to the murder he switched off his phone and did not respond to further calls.
Rights groups have expressed fears the same blood-money laws that spared Iqbal could be used to pardon Parveen's killers.
Zulfiqar Hameed, a senior police officer investigating the killing of Parveen, said police would be filing a report to the government later detailing Iqbal's past.
"Iqbal was a notorious character and he had murdered his first wife six years ago. A police case was lodged against him and he was on the run for many weeks," Hameed said.
"He was arrested and later released after a compromise with his family."
According to Iqbal, a farmer from the Jaranwala district, Parveen's family had initially agreed to their marriage but they had later fallen out because they wanted a greater amount in dowry.
BRITAIN CONDEMNS 'BARBARIC' MURDER OF WOMAN: British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the "barbaric" murder of a pregnant woman by her family outside a courtroom in Pakistan.
Hague urged the Pakistani government to fully investigate the killing of 25-year-old Farzana Parveen and stamp out the practice of killings to defend family "honour".
"I am shocked and appalled by the death of Farzana Parveen: both for the appalling manner of her death, and the unspeakable cruelty and injustice of murdering a woman for exercising her basic right to choose who to love and marry," Hague said in a statement in London.
LHC TAKES NOTICE OF WOMAN’S STONING
Staff Reporter from Lahore adds: The Lahore High Court on Thursday took notice of the stoning of a pregnant woman by her family for choosing a husband outside the premises of the court.
The complaint cell of the LHC directed the district and sessions judge to look into the matter and submit a report. The brutal incident took place on Fane Road when Farzana, 25, of Nankana Sahib, her husband Muhammad Iqbal and in-laws left the office of her counsel for appearing before the court. The alleged killers – the woman’s father Azeem, brothers Zahid and Ghulam Ali and other family members – intercepted her and started beating her with bricks.
Her family had got an abduction case registered against her husband and she had filed a petition in the LHC to get the case quashed. She was to appear before the court on Tuesday to record her statement in favour of her husband.
Eyewitnesses said Farzana was crying and seeking help of passersby but no one came forward to rescue her. Even police personnel present there acted as silent spectators.
The woman sustained serious head injuries and died on the spot. Her husband and in-laws were also injured. All the assailants managed to escape.
Mozang police took Farzana’s body to the city morgue and got the injured medically examined. Police said a case had been registered against six attackers on the complaint of the woman’s husband. They said a raiding team had been sent to Nankana Sahib to arrest the culprits.
Farzana married Iqbal in January this year and was pregnant.