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Tuesday, August 3, 1999 Published at 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK

World: South Asia

Pakistan fails to condemn 'honour' killings

The practice has continued in the conservative north-west

By Zaffer Abbas in Islamabad

Pakistan's upper house, the Senate, has rejected a resolution condemning the growing incidence of murder of women in the name of family honour.

The resolution was moved by the main opposition party of former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, but members from the highly conservative tribal region of the north-west frontier province prevailed upon the house to stop the move.

The practice to murder women in the name of family honour has been going on for ages in many of the tribal and conservative parts of Pakistan.

Shot down

Recently, it became a major issue when a woman who had fled her home in the north-west frontier to avoid a forced marriage was shot down by a hired killer in the office of a human rights activist.

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The incident sparked a bitter debate in the country, with human rights groups asking for a new and strict law to discourage the practice.

It was against this backdrop that the opposition Pakistan People's Party wanted the Senate to pass a resolution to condemn the so-called "honour" killings of women.

But when it tried to move the resolution, the governing party members belonging to the conservative tribal region of the north-west frontier province put up a forceful opposition.

'Sad day for democracy'

Much to the surprise of many, they were fully backed by a left-wing opposition group, Awami National Party, whose members also come from the same province.

People's Party senator, Iqbal Haider, who had drawn up the resolution, later described it as a sad day for democracy in the country.

He said in order to win the support of some tribal leaders, the governing Pakistan Muslim League had endorsed one of the most reprehensible customs - killing women in the name of honour.

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