My lover, her father and the ‘honour’ that tore us apart

Published: January 2, 2014

I wonder how many women have been silenced in the name of honour by the elders and parents in various regions in Pakistan. PHOTO: FILE

Our ordeal had begun.

She said to me,

“What if something goes wrong? We will be doomed, my whole life will be ruined and they might even kill me.”

Although I was scared, I responded in a brave voice,

“Don’t be scared, just have faith and everything will be alright.”

We were stuck in the midst of a battle to reclaim our lives and live it according to our aspirations and desires. The only other option we had was to abandon our hopes in the name of chauvinistic traditions, where women were the sole victims of culture and tradition.

Her destiny had been sealed by her father who had promised her to an ill reputed relative, known for drugs and poor conduct in exchange for a new motorbike and some cash.

I had tried all my options. I even sent my parents in a graceful and decent way to propose for hand, but her father had resisted because some malicious voices in the village or her family had informed him about our telephonic conversations, whereupon he had rejected my parents on more than one occasion.

We were becoming desperate now. We were running out of time and with each passing day our desperation was growing in magnitude.

We could wait and see if there was some natural way out of this difficulty or take a path clogged with many known and unknown perils. We knew that there were all sorts of risks on the cards – family reputations, feuds between the families and most importantly, our own lives were in danger.

One day, she started crying while talking to me on the phone and vented all her frustration onto me, accusing me for not having a viable solution.

This pushed me to take an initiative – an initiative that would change our lives.

We decided to run away from the village.

The plan was to take her to a village far away from our own and live with my extended family after we got married. We knew that it was a dangerous proposition and we were both literally trembling as the day came closer. Just a single mistake, mishap, miscalculation of time or someone seeing us fleeing would mean that we were doomed.

Only her mother and brother had a soft corner for me and they considered me capable enough to take care of her. But they could not go against her father – a man who had no flexibility at all. His mere arrival and presence at home brought an ominous silence in their house.

He would always have a kalashnikov slung over his shoulder and was also notoriously known for killing two innocent people in a family feud.

We had planned to run away on a day that he would not be home. She told me that she was ready and finally had the support of her mother as well.

It was almost dusk as I rode my motorbike towards her house. I was wearing a traditional shawl around my head which covered my face as well. I heaved a great sigh of relief as I stopped the bike in front of her door. The first step of the plan was over. Her mother was with her at the gate and both of them were sobbing. Through tears and sobs, her mother asked me to take good care of her daughter.

I promised her that I would and we bid our farewells. I started the bike but the moment I pressed down on the accelerator and turned the bike around, we saw her father pointing his Ak-47 at us.

He ordered us to stop or else he would shoot.

I felt frozen to the spot but then in a rush of adrenaline, I turned my bike around, hoping that he would not shoot.

After all, how could a father shoot his daughter?

I accelerated the bike with her holding on tightly to me. But we had only gone about 10 metres when I heard shots from the kalashnikov. Then I felt something fall off my bike.

I felt my heart stop. She had been hit and had fallen of the bike.

My brain was numb – with fear, regret, pain.

Without thinking, I kept driving and did not look back.

As I drove, I could feel her blood on my skin seeping through my clothes – her blood, spilled by the cold-blooded murderer who had killed his own daughter in the name of honour.

I could not believe it. I had lost my biggest dream. The person I had loved more than life itself had died right in front of my eyes and I had not been able to do anything.

It has now been six years since the incident. I am now in the Frontier Constabulary, serving in Balochistan, with my wife and two children.

I still remember her – her sparkling eyes filled with hopes and dreams, and her lively voice as she made plans for the future. She would often tell me how she wanted to decorate our house, what kind of furniture she would put in our room and which electrical appliances she would buy from the savings of my salary.

These were the little dreams that she wanted to turn into reality with me. But she was not given the chance of living her own life by her chauvinistic and bigoted father who could not understand that the happiness of his children is far more important and greater than centuries-old norms.

No one knows what happened that day except her mother, brother and father and they have all kept the story a secret. All the people of the village know is that her father shot her due to some personal family issues.

No case has been lodged against him by anyone. Her mother still lives with the pain, her brother has moved on and her father has hypocritically married a woman fleeing with him from another village.

When I think of her, I feel shameful for being a coward and running away.

I feel guilty for her death. But then, this was the risk that we had taken. She had wanted to live her life according to her own wishes and dreams. Unfortunately, in the pursuit of that distant goal of freedom from male chauvinism and bigotry, she had sacrificed her life and I had lost my love.

Religion allows you to pay heed to the choice and preferences of your children in such situations. In fact, it recommends that children should be consulted and their views should be given importance when it comes to such important decisions of life.

I wonder how many women have been silenced in the name of honour by the elders and parents in the various regions of Pakistan. How many jirgaspanchayats or parents end up taking law into their own hands and give death sentences to their own blood, when the sin committed is simply of having fallen in love and getting married to someone of their own choice?

When will this insanity end?

(Honour killings are one of the biggest ailments in Pakistan where women become victims of the draconian tribal laws and customs. This story is based on a personal anecdote that I heard from the locals of my native region Lakki Marwat, which I later converted into this work of fiction.)

Fahad Ur Rehman

Fahad Ur Rehman

A freelance writer and a teacher based in Peshawar, belonging to the Tribal FR Lakki. He is also a student of International Relations and Public Policy at SZABIST Islamabad.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • RKM

    Dude, I am out of words. I do not know what to write.Recommend

  • ali

    These are the kind of stories that our media portrays like.

    “Father kills dishonorouable daughter, paramour escapes”Recommend

  • Waj

    Speechless !! Words cannot do any justice to you. My sympathies. I will leave it at that.Recommend

  • Farooq Yousaf

    Dude, seriously? . The guy is from the region, and wants to expose the double standards of our male dominated “ghairati” society. And this isn’t the media portraying AS PER SE.. this is a story that the guy WANTED THE MEDIA TO PORTRAY …. have some logic and sense :)Recommend

  • xaeema

    i am crying, tears are rolling down my face :'( how can a father be so cruel to his own blood. and not only in villages, such kinda tragedies happen in urban areas too. it made me recall an incident of my life :(Recommend

  • meher

    heart wrenching……………..Recommend

  • Parvez

    Nicely done…….honour killings not only in Pakistan but in many other countries needs to be exposed so that it is seen, as the disgraceful crime that it is, by society.Recommend

  • Necromancer

    WTH!!! “He would always have a kalashnikov slung over his shoulder and was also notoriously known for killing two innocent people in a family feud.”……………
    Please enlighten me where about are you from bro ………..if you are from more civilized part of Pakistan you could have easily bribed the police and have that man arrested and you could easily run away with his daughter……Recommend

  • Revival

    He belongs to FR. Lakki, where such things are quite common. He has portrayed the situation very rightly I guess.Recommend

  • Voice of Reason

    Cute story, but an AK-47 bullet travelling at 710 m/s (approx.) would go through the first body like a knife through hot butter, and would at least (I’m being conservative here) seriously injure the rider. Simple science that anyone would expect someone from the area to know, really.

    I know this little story is meant to carry a message and all, but if you get your facts wrong, it undermines the credibility of the awareness that you’re trying to raise. Being from the area is not enough, you still have to do the requisite research before writing.

    Just my two cents worth.Recommend

  • Akbar

    ahhhh….it was soo paining story… just em speechless :(Recommend

  • reshblooywrkhn

    yes,that needs to BRIBING too.Sad its just sad.Recommend

  • Revival

    Cute or spicy! I guess he has done enough to highlight an important issue i.e honor killings, which do happen on daily basis in all these rural and backward regions. Reports, statistics etc are enough to prove it.

    I guess that effort to highlight this grave issue is enough to give him the credit, and then its always the case, in order to grab maximum readership and attention you have to give it some colors and sugar coatings to your story.

    Besides that, what you have said is all based on “Chance theory” its not always the case that the bullets always pierce through the first body on the initial contact, there are cases when no such thing has happened.

    Therefore I guess nothing should be taken away and praise must be given where its due. All those people who are against this issue are somehow implicitly defending their deep down “male chauvinism” and by stating this I am not referring to you.Recommend

  • Voice of Reason

    “I guess”?Recommend

  • Revival

    Belonging to the area doesn’t makes you an “encounter specialist” and a “gun specialist”. He has just highlighted an important dark aspect of our society which finds no justification even in the religion also. And I guess in order to reach wider audience giving some “sugar coatings” to your story is not bad at all.

    Furthermore, about your query, I guess its not always “100 percent” that if you are shooting someone from AK-47, it must at all cost pierce through his body and kill the other person too. There is always that “CHANCE”.Recommend

  • Buzurg

    From 10 meters? Really? Ask yourself what you’re really trying to do here – offer the author unconditional support or do you really care about the issue?Recommend

  • Usman

    This is heart breaking – I m sorry for the loss! Its even hard to express in such cases because your mind goes numb when you hear such a thing.Recommend

  • Anwaar

    eradicate feudalism, establish the writ of the law …. these are some of the things never done by any politician in this country….. a democracy which is so stagnant … run by the feudals themselves….Recommend

  • Maria

    I’m SpeechlesS ,its a Great Article..thumbs Up !Recommend

  • Shafaq Ejaz

    exceptionally well written…truly depicted the major negative aspect of our societyRecommend

  • Argo

    Great story to highlight an important issue that is quite prevalent in our backward regions. Its about time we stand up for these basic issues from which the civilized world has got ridden of hundreds of years ago.Recommend

  • MahvYscch Ea-jazz

    great job done fahad thoughtful of you…writing such a big issue so flawlessly… amazingRecommend

  • bilal

    Beautifully written Recommend

  • Fawad Sharif

    Speechless Bro, Its eloquence in your work as usual. Its so natural you have highlighted as important issue. Keeping going. God Bless You !Recommend

  • Geek from Yorkshire

    Great piece! A bit depressing but then that’s how our cruel society has been down the years, killing innocents in the name of honor on everyday basis. At least we as a nation should be united on such issues and government also has a lot to do to save people from becoming such victims.Recommend

  • sobia

    wow what a forensics expert you are…so you know the angle and that it definitely went through her body? what about head… what about her being hit n then fell off and then being shot later on.Recommend

  • arif

    its a dilemma of our society where girls are not allowed to choose their life partner. this is right given by islam and yet denied by people. women used to take divorces in Holy Prophet times yet nowadays just try this and the whole society jumps up at you.

    one more issue that has not been noticed is selling their daughters and sisters. this is common practice in tribal areas. father getting money for marrying his daughter to someone. but no one is bothered. such a shameRecommend

  • chandni

    Speechless…! heart touching. almost made me cryRecommend

  • Bilal Afridi

    No words Brother, seriously, a very phenomenal set of words you have assorted, and portrayed in an outstanding fashion. i am really honoured, to read your story written story sitting besides you before it is being published.
    ” best lines by best writer”.Recommend

  • Karan

    All this is a serious issue & a lil efforts like this writings can make a diffrence so with due respect …its a good work & atmost respected.Recommend

  • Shahzore

    Bribe the policeman? lol I guess you don’t know the situation of security forces and apparatus in the Tribal areas… Even if an army man makes a moves, he is dead the next day….Recommend

  • Sher Khan

    I wish your two cents would have been worth on a worthy place…Recommend

  • kashif

    ET and its propagation of agenda of west. Every story start from female problem and ends with it. There is nothing else for you morons to write. What we are trying to achieve is a free culture where women can do whatever they want. Ahh so much for female liberation. Recommend

  • Reema Jain

    An amazing piece of writing! Well done! (y)Recommend

  • Bilal

    Splendid Work Recommend

  • Amna Sharif

    A well written piece, a guy voicing out the girlish innocence of house decorating…a rarity. Fragile dreams often overlooked and easily dashed.
    What can one say? Jin ko baap zalim miltay hain un ko aashiq mukhlis miltay hain and jin ko baap naram dil miltay hain un ko asshiq kaminay takartay hain! The irony of fate! Keep up the good work.Recommend

  • Tufail Toru

    i would simply say that these type of people only fear from the society, and not from the God in this type of matters. Islam simplify this thing that if both are in love, knot them in the holy relation of husband and wife. but these barbarians only fear of loosing their status in that barbaric society.Recommend

  • Asma Rehman

    Well Done.. Good job, keep it up!Recommend

  • Almas

    Very sad indeed. Don’t know when are we gonna have fully independent and empowered women.Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    This was brilliant!
    P.S. Nitpicking mistakes is so easy and though someone’s point might be valid in terms of raising factual error in the story but in a work of fiction, it’s the message that should get across. I am sure out of every thousand readers, only 2 people would deliberately find flaws in the author’s work instead of appreciating him for shedding light on such an important topic. This write-up has moved a lot of people. That’s the quality of a strong writer. Double likes for your work!Recommend

  • Syed Owais Mukhtar

    Always follow arranged marriages.Recommend

  • voidist

    nonsense….carry on like this and we will soon end up in 700 ad….Recommend

  • voidist

    A really good article..Recommend

  • honey khan

    Speechless. .I hv no words to express my sadness :(((Recommend

  • Guest

    You’re welcome to write an article about the negative aspects of female liberation and highlight the virtues of female enslavement.Recommend

  • Sana

    we all are extremists in a way or other in ourselves or apart from ourselves yes we are writing, condemning ,discussing and giving sympathies to victims but ask to yourself what will be your response to that,we all are shallow.
    yes we are objecting the cruelty of that father but next moment we said to ourselves or might be think that what the girl is gonna doing is also wrong, yes we are just showing in worlds the sympathies but we all are same inside ourselves,isn’t it?Recommend

  • Iftikhar Ali

    More than half of the population consists of women and the rest is busy in how to restrict them to Chardewari (in the house).Recommend

  • Anees Khan Afridi

    i mean no disrespect here sir
    but after all that had happened how did you have the heart to marry someone latter ?Recommend

  • Ahmad Zubair

    The best thing I have read on ET lately. It’s not merely a writeup but contains a very strong message which is beautifully penned down by Fahad.Recommend

  • Geek from Yorkshire

    Its a fictional story based on real stories from our tribal regions. The writer has just written it. About your query, well, my friend people move on with life. Real life is not some bollywood movie.Recommend

  • Syed Owais Mukhtar

    at least no honor killings, we are better in 700ADRecommend

  • Anees Khan Afridi

    its been part of culture for quiet a while dont expect it fade away so quickly it does take time,but turning a blind eye to this isnt an optionRecommend

  • bunty khanoo

    quite an unlikeable hero. he blames the ignorance of her father, when he knowingly took his own woman into danger, and abandoned her like a coward after she was shot. time can’t erase these kinds of memoriesRecommend

  • Nobody

    What exactly is so terrifying about female liberation?Recommend

  • ixia

    Painfull but the boy is really coward she was dying and the boy ran away…if he really loves her then he should stoped there..I agree killing is not right..but some knows their family values why they cross that limit.and if her father killed innocent people then this the return to him from Allah coz killing owm daughter is not easy he will also feel pain forever.Recommend

  • Danny Archer

    very well said amna.. totally second ur viewpointRecommend

  • Aamir Hameed

    i feel sorry for that poor innocent and sincere girl. May her soul rest in peace. Ameen. but the i my view the second character of the story was totally selfish. he left the girl when she needed him the most. how could he say that he loved her more than his own life? he ran away and left her to die. i cant say that he was in love with the her. this is not love but in fact he was fond of her.Recommend

  • Muhammad Waqas Khan Wazir

    Fahad, one brilliant piece you’ve written, encompassing the feelings that have been part of many a youth. We have all been there, well a great majority from where I am, we have all made compromises over a right that was morally and religiously ours, but couldn’t be ours for the sake of norms or dare I say these bloody dogmas. This is simple case of Brave writing Fahad, hope you keep the good lines coming towards us.Recommend

  • ali

    wah sobia you also have got some very wild imaginations.Recommend

  • Imran Sikandari

    Well written. Impressive. In Pakistan honor killings are known locally as karo-kari. Amnesty International’s report noted “the failure of the authorities to prevent these killings by investigating and punishing the perpetrators.” Recent cases include that of three teenage girls who were buried alive after refusing arranged marriages. Another case was that of Taslim Khatoon Solangi, 17, of Hajna Shah village in Khairpur district, which became widely reported after the graphic account of her father, 57-year-old Gul Sher Solangi,who alleged his eight months’ pregnant daughter was tortured and murdered on March 7 on the orders of her father-in-law, who accused her of carrying a child conceived out of wedlock.

    Statistically, honor killings enjoy high level of support in our society, despite widespread condemnation from human rights groups. In 2002 alone, over 382 people, about 245 women and 137 men, became victims of honor killings in the Sindh province. Over 4,000 women have fallen victim to this practice in Pakistan from 1999 to 2004. More recently, the average annual number of honor killings for the whole nation ran up to more than 10,000 per year.

    According to woman rights advocates, the concept of women as property and honor is so deeply entrenched in the social, political and economic fabric of Pakistan that the government, for the most part, ignores the daily occurrences of women being killed and maimed by their families.” Frequently, women murdered in “honour” killings are recorded as having committed suicide or died in accidents.Recommend

  • abubakar

    Ya only in pathetic and oppressive countriesRecommend

  • abubakar

    So which century do you think we’re living now? We are still in 7th century, snap out of your delusions that we as a nation are a modern and sophisticated people,, we lag centuries behindRecommend