Shahid ‘worried about safety’

Samia Shahid's 'honour killing' in Pakistan implicates family members.

Samia Shahid with her husband, Syed Mukhtar Kazam. Courtesy Mukhtar Kazim
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DUBAI // When Samia Shahid travelled to Pakistan last month after being told her father was gravely ill, she apparently feared for her safety.

Less than a week later, the 28-year-old British-Pakistani, who worked as a real estate consultant in Dubai and lived in Ajman, was dead, allegedly strangled by her former husband with the help of her father.

Police in Pakistan were on Wednesday given an additional five days to question the suspects, Chaudhry Shakeel, and Shahid’s father, Mohammad Shahid. It is suspected they conspired to kill Shahid because she had shamed her family.

Her relatives in Jhelum in northern Punjab, however, say she died of natural causes.

Samar Naqvi, a family friend and neighbour, who said she was the last person to visit Shahid before she left for the airport on July 14 said: “She appeared worried about her safety in Pakistan but also wanted to visit her ailing father”.

It is alleged that Shahid’s family were unhappy about her marriage to her second husband, Syed Mukhtar Kazam.

She was born and raised in Bradford, England, where her family had lived since the 1950s. After marrying her first husband, Mohammad Shakeel, also her cousin, she lived in Pakistan for a short period before returning to the UK, where the couple divorced in 2014.

Later that year, she married Mr Kazam, supposedly against her parents’ wishes.

The couple then relocated to the UAE and were due to celebrate their second wedding anniversary in Dubai on September 6.

When Shahid was told of her father’s condition, despite her husband’s pleas, friends say she felt she had no choice but to visit him.

“I never wanted her to visit Pakistan because I had a feeling that they [her family] would mistreat her,” said Mr Kazam, 30, who works for a paint company in Ajman.

“But when her sister called her from England and told her that her father was very sick, she decided to visit him, despite my disapproval.”

It is alleged that her father’s illness had been exaggerated.

Shahid died at her family home on July 20 and was buried soon after.

Local police began investigating after Mr Kazam raised concerns over the circumstance of her death, with evidence soon emerging that she had been strangled.

Ms Naqvi said she was still coming to terms with the loss of her friend.

“Samia was such a jovial and positive person. I can’t believe she is not alive,” she said.

Farwa Kazam, Shahid’s sister-in-law, said: “I never saw such a positive person. She was so happy to be in Dubai and loved to hang out.

“She always found time out of her busy work schedule and we would roam the city exploring lots of things together.”

Iqbal Maladwala, vice-chairman of the Dubai-based Pakistan Professionals Wing, believed his home country should do more to stamp out honour killings.

He said the Pakistan government should “start imparting lessons in moral science as has been done in UAE” and “do away with books that teach hate and violence to students”.

Last month, Pakistani social media star Qandeel Baloch was allegedly murdered by her brother in a so-called honour killing.

He blamed an “archaic tribal mindset” and “illiterate preachers who goad people to commit such acts”.

akhaishgi@thenational.ae