Islamabad - Terming the honour killing a contemptible act Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif yesterday said, “There is no honour in honour killing and such acts have nothing to do with religion.”

Addressing at the launch of a documentary by Oscar Award-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy here at Prime Minister’s Office Auditorium, the Prime Minister said that women empowerment and bringing violence against them to an end in society are on top of his government’s agenda.

Chinoy’s film ‘A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness,’ nominated for 88th Academy Awards, was screened at the Prime Minister’s Office as an initiative of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to highlight the issue of honour killing at the government level.

The launch of documentary from his office was a manifestation of the government’s firm resolve to address the issue of honour killing , which has nothing to do with religion, the Prime Minister remarked.

The PM quoted from the Hadith (sayings) of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) that says: “The most honourable man among you is the one who shows respect towards women.”

There is no honour in honour killing , the Pm said, adding that he was proud that a ‘daughter of Pakistan’ through her art of filmmaking was contributing towards the betterment of society by working on challenging themes.

He commended Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy for her remarkable work and wished her success in the Academy Awards to be held later this month. He expressed his firm resolve to build a progressive Pakistan by giving an equal and respectable status to women.

Later, talking to journalists after watching the film, the Prime Minister said the society’s mindset about honour killings must be changed. The issue needs to be highlighted at various platforms to create awareness among the masses, he added.

Nawaz Sharif said he was keen to provide women a level playing field in accordance with the vision of the QuaideAzam Muhammad Ali Jinnah for the development and prosperity of the country.

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy speaking on the occasion said women are the greatest assets of Pakistan with their diverse potential ranging from scaling highest peaks of the world to proving their mettle in sports, or working strong as parliamentarians, lawyers and scientists. Despite all these strides, she said, the women were being subjected to the incidents of honour killing and acid throwing. She stressed for paving the way for strong legislation against honour killing , which she termed as “premeditative murder.”

She expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Sharif for his support for the launch of film from his Office, and added that it was a laudable initiative by a true democratically elected leader.

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy said as a citizen of Pakistan, she was proud of the Prime Minister’s support for the cause against honour killing . She said in the patriarchal society, the women are being killed in the name of honour by their blood relatives, mostly fathers and brothers.

Sharmeen said Islam gives rights to women to choose their partners for the sacred act of marriage and mentioned that the Nikkah (nuptial agreement) emphasizes on seeking the consent of the bride thrice to ensure that the marriage is not against her wish.

She strongly recommended prosecution of murderers involved in honour killing so that the killers of a daughter or a sister do not go scot free. She dismissed the impression that her movies are generally meant for international audience and said highlighting the issue related to the women of Pakistan was very much relevant with this society.

Sharmeen said her film would be screened in April at a national television channel and said she was optimistic that her efforts would go a long way in bringing a positive change in the society.

Bella Evidente, Country Programme Manager of UN Human Settlement Programme who attended the event said that a critical subject had been addressed for which Sharmeen deserved commendation.

Khawar Mumtaz, Former Chairperson National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) while sharing her views said the prime minister’s personal interest in the launch of film was significant to raise awareness about honour killing , for which NCSW had been working for years. The documentary film ‘A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness’ is about a young girl who is shot and thrown in river by her father on marrying a boy of her choice. The girl who survived by chance is forced to forgive her attackers owing to the social pressure.

The event was attended by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Defence Minister Khwaja Asif State Minister for Information Technology Anousha Rehman and State Minister for Health Saira Afzal Tarar, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong, other ambassadors and human rights activists. The Prime Minister’s daughter Maryam Nawaz was also present on the occasion.