Dark tale of love and murder in Pakistan's rural heartland

Fri May 30, 2014 1:18pm EDT
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By Mehreen Zahra-Malik

MOZA SIAL Pakistan (Reuters) - A Pakistani man whose pregnant wife was bludgeoned to death by angry family members who did not approve of the marriage fondly recalled a brief life together with the woman he fell in love with at first sight.

Farzana Iqbal, 25, was murdered by a group of assailants including her father on Tuesday, witnesses and police said, because she fell in love with and married Muhammed Iqbal in January instead of a cousin they had selected for her.

"She was a very happy person. And she was the best wife anyone could ask for," Iqbal, 45, told Reuters in his mud-brick home in the village of Moza Sial in central Pakistan, 240 km (150 miles) west of Lahore.

"She never lied. She never broke her promises. That's what I loved and respected the most about her. She never let me down. But I let her down. It was my duty to save her and I let her down."

The dark tale of love, betrayal and murder has stunned people around the world, with the United Nations condemning Farzana's killing and a major international newspaper running a Reuters photograph of the grisly aftermath of the attack on its front page.

In Pakistan, a Muslim country of some 180 million people, the reaction has been more muted.

Many conservative families consider it shameful for a woman to fall in love and choose her own husband. Refusal to accept arranged marriages frequently results in "honor killings".

In 2013, 869 such cases were reported in the media, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and the true figure is probably higher since many cases go unreported.   Continued...

Muhammed Iqbal, 45, husband of the late Farzana Iqbal, sits with his family members at his residence in a village in Moza Sial, west of Lahore May 30, 2014. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza