Mob murder of Pakistani woman was routine, say police

Updated 31 May 2014
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Mob murder of Pakistani woman was routine, say police

LAHORE, Pakistan: Pakistani police denied negligence on Saturday over their failure to stop the bludgeoning to death of a woman outside a courthouse, describing it as a simple murder case despite a chorus of global condemnation.
Farzana Parveen died after she was set upon by more than two dozen attackers armed with bricks outside Lahore’s High Court on Tuesday, including numerous relatives, for marrying against her family’s wishes.
Police were present at the scene but did not stop the mob killing Parveen, who was three months pregnant.
Parveen’s father Mohammad Azeem was detained at the scene of the attack. Four others, including an uncle, two of her cousins, and a driver were arrested late Thursday.
Senior officer Zulfiqar Hameed defended his men’s actions, saying one had snatched a gun from an attacker, but claimed the mob was too large for police to stop the killing. He also blamed foreign media for their “inaccurate” description of events.
“It is a routine murder case like other murder cases and has to be seen in the context of Pakistani society,” Hameed told AFP.
“The foreign media is wrongly describing it as stoning without seeing the background of the two families, which is not good and which resulted in this incident,” he added.
Hameed also claimed Parveen’s husband Mohammad Iqbal had absconded from justice for four years after murdering his wife, and alleged that Parveen eloped with him despite already being married.
Iqbal — who Thursday admitted he had strangled his first wife out of love for Parveen — had told AFP he wanted to see her attackers “killed with bricks.”
He was spared jail for his first wife’s murder because his sons persuaded her family to pardon him under Pakistan’s blood-money laws.
These allow a victim’s family to forgive the murderer, which makes prosecuting so-called “honor” cases difficult as the killer is usually a relative.
In a further complication to the case, defense lawyer Mansoor Khan Afridi on Saturday claimed Iqbal had abducted Parveen two years ago, when she was already married to her cousin Mazhar Iqbal.
“Mohammad Iqbal developed illicit relations with Farzana and used to visit her when her husband Mazhar Iqbal was not at home,” Afridi said. “Later Iqbal kidnapped her.”
The lawyer claimed Mohammad Iqbal then obtained another marriage certificate, a crime if Parveen was already married to another man, he said.
Afridi said that cases of abduction and unlawful marriage had already been registered with police.
A Pakistani court extended the custody of Parveen’s father on Saturday, giving police seven more days to investigate the crime, senior police official Omer Riaz Cheema told AFP.
Parveen was at court to testify in Iqbal’s defense when she was killed, after he was accused by her relatives of kidnapping her and forcing her into marriage.
Hundreds of women are murdered by their relatives in Pakistan each year in the name of defending family “honor.”
But the brazen, brutal nature of Parveen’s killing, in broad daylight in the center of Pakistan’s second largest city, has triggered outrage around the world.
Officers made the later arrests after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif demanded immediate action on the case.
Last year, 869 women died in so-called “honor killings,” according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.


Trump consoles Californians suffering from twin tragedies

Updated 1 min 16 sec ago
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Trump consoles Californians suffering from twin tragedies

  • Wildfire death toll has reached more than 70, while a thousand people are still missing
  • rump’s visits to areas of Northern and Southern California gave him a grasp of the desolation in the heart of California’s killer wildfires

PARADISE, California: President Donald Trump acknowledged Californians suffering from twin tragedies, walking through the ashes of a mobile home and RV park in a small northern town all-but-destroyed by deadly wildfires and privately consoling people grieving after a mass shooting at a popular college bar outside Los Angeles.
“This has been a tough day when you look at all of the death from one place to the next,” Trump said Saturday before flying back to Washington.
Trump’s visits to areas of Northern and Southern California in the aftermath of unprecedented wildfires that have killed more than 70 people gave him what he sought in flying coast to coast and back in a single day — a grasp of the desolation in the heart of California’s killer wildfires.
“We’ve never seen anything like this in California, we’ve never seen anything like this yet. It’s like total devastation,” Trump said as he stood amid the ruins of Paradise, burned to the ground by a wildfire the president called “this monster.”
Before returning to Washington, Trump met briefly at an airport hangar with families and first responders touched by the shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks more than a week ago, which left 12 dead in what Trump called “a horrible, horrible event.” Reporters and photographers were not allowed to accompany the president to the session, which Trump later described as emotional.
“What can you say other than it’s so sad to see. These are great people. Great families, torn apart,” he told reporters. “We just hugged them and we kissed them — and everybody. And it was very warm.”
He added: “It was tragic and yet, in one way, it was a very beautiful moment.”
Trump had made only one previous trip as president to California, a deeply Democratic and liberal state that he has blamed for a pair of overheated crises, illegal immigration and voter fraud. He also has been at odds with the state’s Democratic-led government, but differences were generally put aside as Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom joined Trump in surveying the wildfire damage.
“We’re going to have to work quickly,” Trump said near the crumpled foundations of Paradise homes and twisted steel of melted cars. “Hopefully this is going to be the last of these because this was a really, really bad one.”
In a nod to his belief — not shared by all forest scientists — that improved forest management practices will diminish future risks, Trump added: “I think everybody’s seen the light and I don’t think we’ll have this again to this extent.”
With that bold and perhaps unlikely prediction, Trump evoked his initial tweeted reaction to the fire, the worst in the state’s history, in which he seemed to blame local officials and threatened to take away federal funding.
Hours later and hundreds of miles to the south, Trump found similar signs of devastation in the seaside conclave of Malibu, one of the areas of Southern California ravaged by wildfires that have killed at least three. Palm trees stood scorched and some homes were burned to the ground on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
At least 71 people have died across Northern California, and authorities are trying to locate more than 1,000 people, though not all are believed missing. More than 5,500 fire personnel were battling the blaze that covered 228 square miles (590 square kilometers) and was about 50 percent contained, officials said.
When asked in Paradise if seeing the historic devastation, which stretched for miles and left neighborhoods destroyed and fields scorched, altered his opinion on climate change, Trump answered, “No.”
The president has long voiced skepticism about man’s impact on the climate and has been reluctant to assign blame to a warming earth for the increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters.
Wearing a camouflage “USA” hat, Trump gazed solemnly at the devastation in Paradise. Several burned-out buses and cars were nearby. Trees were burned, their branches bare and twisted. Homes were totally gone; some foundations remained, as did a chimney and, in front of one house, a Mickey Mouse lawn ornament. The fire was reported to have moved through the area at 80 mph.
“It’s going to work out well, but right now we want to take care of the people that are so badly hurt,” Trump said while visiting what remained of the Skyway Villa Mobile Home and RV Park. He noted “there are areas you can’t even get to them yet” and the sheer number of people unaccounted for.
“I think people have to see this really to understand it,” Trump said.
The president later toured an operation center, met with response commanders and praised the work of firefighters, law enforcement and representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Trump took a helicopter tour en route to Chico before he toured Paradise. A full cover of haze and the smell of smoke greeted the president upon his arrival at Beale Air Force Base near Sacramento.
“They’re out there fighting and they’re fighting like hell,” Trump said of the first responders.
He pledged that Washington would do its part by coming to the Golden State’s aid and urged the House’s Republican leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, a Trump ally and frequent White House visitor, to “come to the office” to help secure the needed funding.
Trump long has struggled to convey empathy to victims of national disasters and tragedies. His first reaction to the fires came in a tweet last week that drew criticism as unnecessarily critical and tone-deaf given the devastation: “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests.”
After the negative reaction to that response, Trump shifted gears, expressing words of encouragement to first responders and those of sympathy for hit victims.
Nature and humans share blame for the wildfires, but fire scientists are divided as to whether forest management played a major role. Nature provides the dangerous winds that have whipped the fires, the state has been in a drought and human-caused climate change over the long haul is killing and drying the shrubs and trees that provide the fuel.
When Trump was asked during an interview set to air on “Fox News Sunday” whether climate change played a role in the number of serious fires, he said “maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management.”
In Northern California, Trump continued to show skepticism about the impact of climate change on wildfires. His grasp of forests was shaky at times, at one point, invoking fire prevention efforts in Finland — it has a very different climate than California — as an example for the Golden State to follow.
Asked if he thought climate change played a role in the fires, Brown responded: “Yes. Yes. And we’ll let science determine this over a longer period of time.”
A reporter asked if climate change was discussed with the president, but Trump jumped in to say, “We didn’t discuss it.”
A reporter then said, “Well, you obviously disagree on this issue.” Trump answered, in part: “Maybe not as different as people think. Is it happening? Things are changing. And I think most importantly we’re doing things about. We’re gonna make it better. We’re going to make it a lot better. And it’s gonna happen as quickly as it can possibly happen.”
Brown and Newsom said they welcomed the president’s visit, with Brown suggesting they set aside political differences since it “now is a time to pull together for the people of California.” A fierce advocate of addressing climate change, the governor pointed to several causes and said they need to deal with them.
“If you really look at the facts, from a really open point of view, there are a lot of elements to be considered,” Brown said. “The president came, he saw and I’m looking forward over the next months and beyond to really understand this threat of fire, the whole matter of drought and all the rest of it. It’s not one thing, it’s a lot of things and I think that if we just open our minds and look at things, we’ll get more stuff done.”