Members of a local tribal council who strangled a girl and set her body on fire for helping one of her friends to elope in the northwest of Pakistan have been arrested, police said. Ambreen Riasat, 17, was drugged and strangled before her body was set ablaze in a minibus on the orders of the village’s tribal council in Abbottabad’s Makol district last week, local police chief Khurram Rasheed told Al Jazeera.
The council members tied Riasat’s body to the seats of the Suzuki minibus in which the couple had eloped and set the vehicle on fire, according to police. “We have arrested 13 people from the council and the victim’s mother,” Rasheed told Al Jazeera. “The mother of the victim was arrested because she was involved in the decision-making and also because she handed her daughter to the members of the council,” Rasheed said.
“If proven guilty, the suspects could face the death sentence or life in prison,” he added. Ansar Burney, a leading Pakistani civil rights activist, called for a crackdown on honour killings linked to the tribal council system in Pakistan. “The tribal council system should immediately end and everyone involved in such crimes should be punished,” Burney told Al Jazeera.
“A Jirga [tribal council] does not have any right to give such orders. Even the law does not support the tribal system; who are they to give orders to kill someone?” Burney said. “I am ashamed to be living among such people. Women are still slaves in Pakistan. Why do men impose such killings only on women? This trend and mindset needs to change or else our daughters and sisters will face the same future.”