Afzal Kohistani: ‘Honour killing’ whistleblower shot dead

March 7, 2019 | Brainwave Science


Afzal Kohistani, a campaigner against Pakistan’s notorious “honor killings” was shot dead nearly seven years after he brought this issue to national attention. A video, filmed in 2011 in rural Pakistan, led to chilling consequences. It showed two men dancing as four women sang a wedding. But the women in the video, including a young female member, are believed to have been killed by male relatives for breaching their family’s dignity in the highly tiered caste system.Afzal Kohistani: ‘Honour killing’

Afzal Kohistani, the brother of the man in the video, has now been killed too. His death comes amid a blood feud that has seen three of his other brothers killed. He was shot dead in a busy commercial area of the north-western city of Abbottabad, Pakistan on Wednesday. He suffered multiple injuries and lattes succumbed on the spot. In 2012, Mr. Kohistani was one of the first Pakistanis in the news to violate a local custom.Afzal Kohistani: ‘Honour killing’

Such killings in the name of the family are common in Kohistan. According to the custom, the male family members of a woman suspected of an out-of-wedlock liaison should first kill the woman and then go after the man. The family of the man would not oppose this action.Afzal Kohistani: ‘Honour killing’

Disregarding this local code, Mr. Kohistani brought the wedding video case to national attention in June 2012, when he claimed that the women in the video had been killed by their family a month earlier and that the lives of his younger brothers, two of whom were seen dancing in the footage, were in danger. The pair were sent into hiding. At this point, human rights groups had taken notice of the case and began lobbying the courts – prompting the Supreme Court to order an inquiry.Afzal Kohistani: ‘Honour killing’

Afzal Kohistani’s decision to break the traditional codes – Kohistan is one of the most conservative and inaccessible parts of Pakistan – sparked a feud between his family and that of the women.Afzal Kohistani: ‘Honour killing’

Three of his older brothers were killed in 2013 – six men from the women’s family were convicted in connection with the murders in what was a landmark case in Kohistan. However, they were acquitted by the high court in 2017.

Amid the feud, Mr. Kohistani’s house was firebombed and destroyed but he did not relent. He moved home and continued to talk about what had happened to the women. According to the police, the men admitted during interrogation that three of the four women seen in the video had been killed but retracted their statement when they appeared before a magistrate.

Farzana Bari, an activist who took part in the inquiry, said she had suspicions that at least two of the women were “imposters”, but the Supreme Court closed the case.Afzal Kohistani: ‘Honour killing’

Finally, in July 2018, the Supreme Court ordered a fresh police investigation, which led to five further arrests of men from the women’s family.

But the investigators found no conclusive evidence of the so-called honor killings of the women, which are illegal under Pakistani law. They were presented with three women whose family members said were proof that those who appeared in the video were alive.


Pakistan has the highest volume of documented and estimated honor killings per capita of any country in the world; about one-fifth of the world’s honor killings are performed in Pakistan. An honor killing is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or community. The death of the victim is viewed as a way to restore the reputation and honor of the family.

Worldwide, according to the UN, around 5,000 women and girls are killed each year members of their families, in the name of ‘honor-killing’.

‘Honor killings’ have been a practice in Pakistan and India for thousands of years, and, despite recent legal reforms, they remain a common practice in the region today. While international and Pakistani activists groups have been pushing for an end to the practice. Some say that change will not truly happen unless the general public chooses to condemn the practice

It is difficult to ascertain how many people are killed their ‘family honor’. Such crimes often go unreported and are difficult to distinguish from domestic violence. Cases of honor killings are on the rise, with little convictions.

Killing or abusing in the name of ‘Family Honor’ is widely spread around Asia and the Middle East. Many have been killed for their religious views.

In order to eliminate this ‘social evil’ in a society where it is unanimously supported and thus also denied and covered up, there is a need for a way to screen the guilty from the innocent quickly and without torture.


Law enforcement agencies will be able to enhance their capabilities enormously with the use of a revolutionary technology called iCognative. It has been developed and is marketed by Brainwave Science, headquartered in Massachusetts, United States of America. iCognative is an accurate way to determine whether crime-specific information is present in the mind of the suspect. It does so with an accuracy of more than 99%. iCognative technology is highly reliable. It is applicable in around 85-90% of criminal and civil cases. The operators from the agencies find it extremely to learn and use. iCognative is a highly portable intelligence gathering technology because it requires only a specialized headset and a computer.

iCognative does not involve the torture of the subjects, and this is a harmless, humane alternative to conventional methods, which are also subjective, inaccurate and time-consuming. iCognative is helpful to a wide range of agencies, such as law enforcement, anti-trafficking, counter-terrorism, national security, border security, and immigration.

Once captured, iCognative can be used as a litmus test on the suspects to help the authorities to screen them. In this case, the suspects are members of the immediate family. Because the killing has been made in the name of ‘honor’ of the family, the suspects, are highly likely to conceal information and protect the family reputation. Essentially, such suspects usually deny being privy to crime-related information. iCognative is a reliable and accurate technology to detect if a person has an awareness of details which only a criminal or a planner must know.

The suspect is supposed to wear a headset equipped with EEG sensors to pick up electrical responses to stimuli which are flashed on a screen. Stimuli consist of images, words or phrases related to the crime. These are discovered after a preliminary investigation into the case. The system tests for the presence of information which only a planner and/or executor of a specific crime should know.

In the case of the honor killing and the murder of the whistleblower, one must understand that the whole community supports the archaic and atrocious practice. The stimuli to be used in the Brainwave test of arrested suspects could be details of the site of the crime like pictures and details of the murder location, murder weapon, picture and name of them, etc. The revolutionary database analysis technique of the software will be able to detect linkages among the cases. This is crucial to bring down honor killings. The efficiency and accuracy of iCognative can act as a deterrent and reduce future crime.

iCognative test usually lasts around 45-minutes. It accurately tells whether the subject’s brain is aware of the crime-specific details or not.

Investigating agencies in Pakistan must try iCognative on the arrested suspects in order to quickly detect their involvement and to gather information so that justice can be served quicker, and a deterrent can be put forth.

iCognative, developed and marketed by Brainwave Science, is the only available neuro-science technology which has the capability to reveal the presence of specific information in the suspect’s brain, support law enforcement personnel to investigate in the right direction, identify the perpetrators from innocents and provide long-awaited justice to the victims.

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