This story is interesting to me because I really can't believe that anyone would be killed by their own family because of being with someone they love. I guess we don't know how lucky we are in this country, despite the fact that mixed-race and same-sex couples still face discrimination.
KARACHI, PAKISTAN (AP) -- Risking their lives for love, a young couple from hostile ethnic communities who apparently eloped could face death if captured. The girl's community has vowed to kill her even if it turns out she was kidnapped. The man may also be doomed in a country that considers sex outside marriage a capital offense.
Riffat Afridi, a member of Karachi's large Pathan community, has been missing since last week, like her presumed lover, Kanwar Ahson, who is Mohajir, the city's biggest ethnic group. Police believe they eloped, but on Wednesday, Pathans went on a rampage in Karachi, claiming Ahson kidnapped her. Two bystanders were killed and eight people were injured. Many in this volatile city fear it was only a beginning, recalling a period of clashes between Pathans and Mohajirs that claimed about 1,100 lives in the mid-1980's.
Amid the riots Wednesday, a council of Pathan elders not only decided the girl deserved to die but also declared itself determined to carry out the sentence, the head of the council, Tariq Khan, said Thursday. "It doesn't matter whether she was kidnapped or whether she went voluntarily. She will be killed," Khan said. "This is against our tradition and honor."
The girl's father agreed. "This is a matter of our honor. We don't allow our women to be taken away or to go away. Whether she has eloped or was kidnapped we will kill her," he said.
Meanwhile, Ahson has been charged under Pakistan's Islamic Hadood Ordinance, which imposes the death penalty for sex out of marriage. Police are searching for the couple, who they suspect have fled to Lahore, 300 miles north of this southern port city. On Tuesday, two policemen were fired for failing to find the couple, an apparent attempt to appease the 2 million Pathans in Karachi.
The Pathans, a conservative Muslim group from northern Pakistan and Afghanistan, are the city's third largest ethnic group. The Mohajirs and Muslims migrated from India after the subcontinent was partitioned by the British in 1947 into the Islamic state of Pakistan and the predominately Hindu country of India. Mohajir means immigrant in the Urdu language.