British woman was asphyxiated in Pakistan: police

Lahore: A British woman suspected to have been the victim of an “honour killing” in Pakistan had been suffocated according to a forensic report, police said today.

Mukhtar Kazam, in a complaint to police, has said his wife Samia Shahid was murdered during a visit to her family in a village in Punjab province on July 20.

Shahid’s father has denied the charge and claimed his daughter died of natural causes.

At an emotional press conference last week Kazam presented a copy of a post-mortem report which said the 28-year-old had marks on her neck, suggesting she had been strangled.

Police said the latest forensic report had confirmed Shahid died an unnatural death.

“The forensic report has been received by a three-member special investigation committee set up by chief minister Punjab and according to it Samia Shahid’s death occurred due to asphyxia,” Abubakar Khuda Bakhsh, the chief investigator, told AFP.

Kazam has described his wife’s death as an “honour killing”, a near daily occurrence in Pakistan in which a relative is murdered by another for bringing what is deemed dishonour to the family.

Kazam and Shahid, who was a dual British-Pakistani citizen, had been married for two years and were living in Dubai, police have said, adding that it was Shahid’s second marriage.

Kazam has said his wife converted to Shia Islam, his own sect, before their wedding, a move which had irked her parents.

Shahid’s first husband Mohammad Shakeel, her parents and a cousin are being investigated, police have said.

“Honour killings” came under the international spotlight last month with the killing of Qandeel Baloch, a polarising social media star.

Her brother has confessed to the murder, saying his sister’s behaviour had been “intolerable”.

The victims of “honour” killings are overwhelmingly women, with hundreds killed each year.

The crimes have long polarised Pakistan, with progressives calling for tough legislation against them and conservatives resisting.

But the murder of Qandeel Baloch appears to have spurred politicians to take action.

The law minister has announced that bills aimed at tackling loopholes that ease “honour” killings would soon go before parliament.

Rights groups and politicians have for years called for tougher laws to tackle perpetrators of violence against women in Pakistan.