Accused murderer Zahir Jaffer is currently on three-day remand, with investigators saying they have collected all necessary evidence from crime scene
Islamabad Police on Thursday sought to dismiss the impression that Zahir Jaffer was “not in his senses” when he brutally murdered and beheaded a young woman in the federal capital earlier this week, stressing that he had been completely cognizant when he was taken into custody at the scene of the crime.
On Tuesday night, police found the beheaded body of 27-year-old Noor Mukadam at Jaffer’s residence in Sector F-7 of Islamabad. Addressing a press conference to brief media on progress in the case, SSP (Investigation) Atazur Rehman said the accused was the son of a “leading businessmen” of Pakistan, adding that there was “absolutely no justification” for the murder of Mukadam—the daughter of former Pakistani diplomat Shaukat Mukadam.
Addressing the rumors and misinformation that have spread on social media in the wake of the heinous crime, Rehman noted the claims of Jaffer being under the influence of drugs when he committed the murder. Stressing that any alleged drug abuse was not in the purview of the murder investigation, he said that when Jaffer was taken into custody, “he was sound and in his senses.” He added: “He [Jaffer] may have had a past history [of drug abuse] but at least at this time he was completely in his senses.”
The primary investigator clarified that police were examining the suspect’s “mental frame” at the time of the murder, adding that initial findings indicated Jaffer had been completely aware of his actions when he allegedly murdered Mukadum.
To a question on a photo of the suspect that has circulated on social media—showing him trussed up and lying on the ground—the police officer said this had been done by “some people” before police reached the scene. He said the witnesses had claimed they had been attacked by the suspect after the murder.
Jaffer, currently in police custody on a three-day remand, is being interrogated, said Rehman. He said the police had no information on whether the suspect had a criminal record in other countries, as claimed by several people on social media.
Referring to witness statements, the SSP said that domestic workers employed by the household had said that they had heard Mukadum and Jaffer quarrelling. However, he said, it was not yet determined whether they knew it could lead to murder. “If they really knew that its ultimate result would be a murder then they also fall into vicarious liability and criminal negligence but in case they didn’t know what its result would be then we will only hold them responsible as far as their liability goes,” he said.
Briefing media on the investigation, Rehman said that all forensic evidence had been collected from the crime scene. “This way we have made the full effort that not a single piece of evidence is destroyed,” he said, adding that the victim’s family had been visited by the inspector general of police and assured that the case would be brought to a conclusion.
“A special [investigation] team was made because this case is very important for us,” he said, adding that securing justice for the victim’s family was “our duty and responsibility.”
To a question on reports of the suspect’s family trying to influence the case, Rehman said this was irrelevant. “When someone’s brutal murder is carried out, we shouldn’t care about the financial position of the culprit even if they are the son of a very influential father,” he said.
Reacting to the murder, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said it was a “horrifying” reminder of the manner in which women in Pakistan are “brutalized and killed with impunity.” In a posting on Twitter, she added: “This must end. We are committed to ensuring no one is above the law and culprits having influence and power cannot simply ‘get away.’ [The] Ministry of Human Rights is in contact with the police and we firmly stand with Noor’s family in giving them any support they need. One cannot even fathom the pain and suffering they are going through.”
Similarly, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also condemned the ongoing abuse of women across Pakistan—at least three other particularly brutal cases have been reported within days of Mukadam’s murder. “I cannot express strongly enough my absolute condemnation of the recent violence and brutality against women. This has no place in our society, lives, religion or culture. We must work harder and do more for prevention and for justice,” he wrote on Twitter. “For Saima, for Quratulain, for Noor,” he added, referring to Mukadam; Qurat-ul-Ain, who was allegedly murdered by her husband; and Saima, who was also allegedly murder by her husband.