LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan on Thursday appointed a senior police official to investigate the death of a British woman whose husband alleges she was killed for marrying him against her parents’ wishes.
The case has attracted attention because it comes days after the high-profile “honor killing” of outspoken social media star Qandeel Baloch by her brother.
Samia Shahid, 28, a beautician from Bradford who had gone to visit her family in Pakistan, died last week in the village of Pandori in northern Punjab, the political power base of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif appointed Deputy Inspector General Police Abubakar Khuda Bakhsh as the investigating officer.
“We are treating this as a very high-profile case of high priority,” said police spokeswoman Nabeela Ghazanfar.
Police had not made any arrests but had questioned Shahid’s father and were searching for her divorced first husband, Choudhry Shakeel, who was missing.
Her second husband, Kazim Mukhtar, told media on Thursday that they had both received death threats from her family in the past. Her relatives have said she died of natural causes.
Less than two weeks ago, 26-year-old Baloch, who had divided opinion in the deeply conservative Muslim society by regularly posting risqué photos on social media, was strangled by her brother.
Some 500 women are killed each year in Pakistan by relatives who feel their family has been shamed by a daughter or sister fraternizing with men, eloping or otherwise infringing conservative demands on women’s modesty.
Baloch’s murder led the government to announce that it would pass long-delayed legislation outlawing “honor killing” within weeks.
Police officer Aqeel Abbas said bruising found on Shahid’s neck could have occurred while her body was being moved or buried.
“She was asthmatic and diabetic,” he said. “The forensic report will reveal the real cause of her death.”
Shah’s husband Kazim Mukhtar said he believed she had been poisoned and then strangled.
“I have received the post-mortem report that says there is a 19-cm long reddish bruise on her neck, which strengthens my doubts,” he told Reuters.
Writing by Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Editing by Kevin Liffey