The murder of two teenage girls in the name of honour in a village in North Waziristan over a leaked mobile video has once again laid bare the cruelty inherent in tribal codes and the impotence of the Pakistani state in curbing so-called honour killings. Had the state not dithered in acting against the culprits of the infamous Kohistan honour killings case of 2012, the killers may not have felt so emboldened to break the law. There are also reports of increasing incidents of violence, where young girls and women are assaulted or killed for appearing in videos at social gatherings such as weddings, that are often recorded without their consent.

The problem cannot be addressed if we continue to glorify tribal culture prevalent across Pakistan from Punjab to North Waziristan and refuse to see it for what it really is: an outdated patriarchal code that gives zero autonomy to women and prescribes ostracisation and outright violence as tools to maintain twisted notions of honour and acceptable conduct. Now with the rampant use of camera-equipped mobile phones and other changes brought on by modern life, women find themselves ever more vulnerable to life-threatening situations completely out of their control.

The state must use all its resources to implement its writ and establish rule of law. Political leaders should show courage in standing for what is right even if it is an unpopular position to take. While Pakistan passed anti-honour killing legislation in October 2016, it appears that stricter punishments have failed to deter perpetrators from carrying out these heinous acts. This is due to lack of enforcement of said law as well as lack of evolution at a socio-political level, where patriarchal notions concerning women remain intact. For now, the primary focus should be the safety and recovery of the third girl in the video and arrests of culprits to prevent further violence.