US national sentenced to death for rape and beheading diplomat’s daughter in Pakistan

Judge Ata Rabbani sentences Zahir Jaffer to be hanged

Jade Bremner
Friday 25 February 2022 20:06 GMT
US national attacks diplomat’s daughter in Pakistan before killing her

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Louise Thomas

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A US national has been sentenced to death by hanging for the rape and beheading of a diplomat's daughter in Pakistan after she refused to marry him.

Pakistan-American Zahir Jaffer, the son of one of the richest families in the country, was convicted of murdering Noor Muqaddam at his home in Islamabad on 20 July 2021, after she rejected the proposal.

Muqaddam, 27, was seen in security video footage being stoped from leaving the grounds of the house after jumping from a first floor window in a desperate attempt to escape.

The shocking CCTV footage also showed her being locked in a shed and dragged along the floor.

The court heard that before Muqaddam’s death, Jaffer held her captive, tortured and raped her, before she was beheaded with a “sharp-edged weapon”.

Police described Muqaddam’s body, found at Jaffer’s residence, as “slaughtered” when they discovered it.

On Thursday, Judge Ata Rabbani sentenced Jaffer to be hanged, while two staff members, a guard and a gardener, received 10 years in prison for assisting the murder. Jaffer’s parents were acquitted.

Ms Muqaddam’s father, Shaukat Ali Muqaddam, said the sentencing was a “victory for justice”.

“The death sentence for Zahir Jaffer, this was very necessary,” said Mr Muqaddam outside the Islamabad court.

“I said time and again that this was not a case of my daughter, it is a question of all of Pakistan’s daughters.” He said that he plans to challenge the acquittal of Jaffer's parents.

Women rights activists hold placards and candles during a protest rally against the brutal killing of Noor Muqaddam, the daughter of a former Pakistani diplomat who was found murdered at a house in Pakistan's capital
Women rights activists hold placards and candles during a protest rally against the brutal killing of Noor Muqaddam, the daughter of a former Pakistani diplomat who was found murdered at a house in Pakistan's capital (AFP via Getty Images)

The high-profile case sparked outrage over the lack of convictions for violence against women in Pakistan, despite high violence rates. Violence against women in Pakistan has been called “endemic” and according to AGHS Legal Aid Cell, less than 3 per cent of perpetrators are convicted.

Data from the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) states at least 85 percent of Pakistani women “have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner at some time in their life”, which is the highest percentage worldwide.

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