"Love matches" are usually frowned upon in that region. A young woman is expected to marry the man her parents have chosen for her, whether she likes it or not; and often that person is a cousin. 22-year-old Raheela grew up with 30-year-old Zulfiqar Sehto. Since early childhood he was her neighbour. According to Sehto, they fell in love "more than 18 months ago" , but when his family asked Raheela's parents for her hand in marriage, they refused. And kept refusing. So they eventually eloped, after a courtship that was almost exclusively via cell phone. Instead of being happy that their daughter and sister had found love and someone who adored her, the family told the police that she had been kidnapped, something that happens all the time in Pakistan.
In July the young couple attempted to have the kidnapping charges dismissed, and asked the court for protection. In spite of the fact that Raheela's uncle tried to choke her with a scarf at their last court appearance in July, this day Sehto made a fatal mistake by not telling the court that he felt they were in danger.
After a break, in front of the two judges and a full courtroom, Raheela's brother - Javed Iqbal Shaikh - a lawyer, pulled out a gun and shot his sister in the head. He was about to aim at Sehto when police tackled him. Somehow he had managed to smuggle in the gun because he was a lawyer.
"The lawyers, they don't like to be searched," said Amjad Shaikh, a police superintendent in Hyderabad, the main city in Pakistan's southern province of Sindh. "Security is a little bit of a problem there."
Any remorse? No. Shaikh said, "I did that in rage because she had dishonoured the family." "I lost my mind."
Four other family members who were present at the proceedings were also charged. Sehto wants the death penalty. Since they are an educated, wealthy family, that probably won't happen.
"Everyone is very shocked by this because it happened in an educated family," said the police officer. "Normally, honour killings happen in the rural areas where people are not educated."
Although this is apparently an unusual case, in as much as it occurred in front of so many witnesses, honor killings in Pakistan are not.
According to the latest survey of violence against women by the Aurat Foundation, a rights group, there were 2,341 honour killings in 2011 in Pakistan – a 27% jump on the year before. The report also said there were more than 8,000 abductions and 3,461 rapes and gang rapes.
But the figures were just "the tip of the iceberg", it warned, saying researchers relied on those cases that were reported in the media only.
Women's rights activist Amar Sindhu, who teaches philosophy at Sindh University, said honor killings have:
...less to do with "cultural and social practices" and more to do with "the complete absence of the rule of law".
"Even in the 19th-century, the colonial authorities were able to reduce these crimes by enforcing laws when social, cultural and religious practices were just as male dominated and anti-woman as they are today," she said.
I would say it's a little of both.