'Honour Killing'

Concern was raised today for Britons engaging in arranged marriages abroad after a couple were shot dead in an apparent "honour killing".

Taxi driver Gul Wazir and his wife Begum, from Alum Rock, Birmingham, were shot dead in Pakistan after they tried to back out of their daughter's arranged marriage.

Their son was also shot during the attack in the country's remote Nowshera province. He is recovering in hospital.

According to reports, the shooting came two days after the Wazirs agreed to pay the equivalent of £18,800 to the bridegroom, who is also their nephew, in compensation.

The killings come just a few months after Mohammad and Pervaze Yousaf, from Nelson, Lancashire, were gunned down in a graveyard in north-east Pakistan.

They were shot in May after the arranged marriage of their son Kamar to his cousin broke down, sparking a family dispute.

Councillor Eileen Ansar, who sits on Pendle Borough Council, and is related to the Yousaf family, was concerned about the practice of marrying off British women abroad.

The 45-year-old said: "The girls do it because they are going through the motions and they will lose the respect of their family if they don't go through with it.

"If you are moving well-educated girls from the UK to marry men who are not educated in Pakistan, then it's not going to work as they have nothing in common.

"The families themselves should be looking at their futures as well. The parents should be considering a lot more what they are doing because it's an absolute tragedy what's happened."

Yesterday, Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood referred to the murder of the Wazirs as an "honour killing".

He added: "The message to people here is they need to take it very seriously, when they make these kind of arrangements, that their children are happy with that and that they have a proper dialogue with their family. If the child refuses the marriage it's seen as an insult.

"I think people need to realise that if they want to continue their ties with their relatives in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, they need to be aware of the extent, when their children aren't overly enthusiastic, that the family overseas will feel they're being slighted."

Mohammad Siddique, Mr Wazir's former boss at Manor Cars in Birmingham, said the couple travelled to the country to sort out a family clash. He said the family was "devastated" by the murders.

The Foreign Office said it distinguished between forced and arranged marriages. A spokeswoman said its dedicated forced marriages unit dealt with 1,700 cases a year. It had the ability to send officers to Pakistan, India and Bangladesh to rescue people seeking a way out of a forced marriage, she said.

{Picture: Carole Erskine, Sky News Online}

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