In a country awash in bloodshed and mindless homicides, Pakistan has recorded a killing of a more “glamorous” nature. Fehmina Chaudhry, a 27-year-old supermodel based in Singapore, was found murdered following her kidnapping in Islamabad.
Police in Islamabad said they arrested a property agent named Maaz Waqar, who confessed to murdering Chaudhry after holding her prisoner in his hotel.
“Police arrested the real estate broker, and after interrogation, he told officers that he had murdered the model and dumped her body in a stream at the outskirts of the city," Islamabad police spokesman Muhammad Naeem told Agence France-Presse.
Chaudhry, one of Pakistan’s leading fashion models who had won a number of beauty contests, including Ms. Asian International in 2012, was found by police a few days after she was reported missing on Saturday. She was apparently house-hunting for her mother in the capital city. According to reports, her mother received a text message from Chaudhry alleging that she had been kidnapped and that her abductors were demanding 20 million Pakistani rupees (about $189,000) for her release.
She left behind a husband and two small children.
Waqar, the property agent now under arrest for murder, reportedly befriended Chaudhry in Singapore and claimed he wanted to start an advertising and fashion business with her in Pakistan, the News International said.
"She was a dedicated philanthropist and she was planning to set up a fashion school in Pakistan," said her promoter Asif Hashmi.
Kidnapping is a national epidemic in Pakistan – official statistics suggest the country records more than 15,000 kidnappings every year, but the actual figure could be much higher. Interestingly, only 10 to 20 percent of abductions are for ransom.
Dr. Jahanzeb Effendi, co-founder of First Response Initiative of Pakistan, said the country has a remorseless “kidnapping culture.” He followed a case in Karachi where his own relative was abducted.
“For these criminals, kidnapping for ransom is not just their profession, it’s their birthright; it is their inheritance, their culture and their custom; it is their livelihood, their sole mode of income and their ultimate right,” he wrote in the Express Tribune.
“They do not believe that kidnapping is unjust, illegal or against the laws of the land. They eat, breathe and live this profession, just as their ancestors have for centuries. They have no conscience."
Effendi claimed that kidnappers in Pakistan are free to commit their crimes because many are working hand in hand with police officials and corrupt politicians.
“The attitude of some policemen is also a disadvantage, as most of the times the families of the victims end up paying an agreed sum of money to the kidnappers to secure the safety of their loved one,” he wrote. “The police take it for granted that the families are rich enough to afford paying the amount. They, however, do not miss an opportunity to collect their ‘tips’, sadqas (charity) and ‘rewards’ from the families. Obviously, the kidnappers get bolder each time a family succumbs to their demands.”
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.