Police Arrest Father Who Shot and Killed His 7-Day-Old Baby Girl

Police say Shahzaib Khan wanted a son, not a daughter.
Pallavi Pundir
Jakarta, ID
crime, south asia, pakistan, female infanticide, gender based violence, patriarchy
Shahzaib Khan (middle) hadn't seen his newborn baby until he showed up to kill her.   Photo: Mianwali Police

After a four-day manhunt, police in Pakistan have arrested a man who allegedly killed his own 7-day-old daughter because he wanted a son. 

Police caught 24-year-old Shahazib Khan on Thursday in the Bhakkar district of Punjab province, 57 miles from his home in Mianwali district where he fatally shot his baby girl Jannat, whose name means “heaven” in Urdu.

“He had expressed his desire for a male child to his wife and other relatives. He didn’t even show up to see his daughter at the hospital when she was born,” Zarrar Khan, a Mianwali police spokesperson, told VICE World News. 

Advertisement

Shahzaib Khan had not seen his daughter until the morning of March 6, when he stormed into his house carrying his licensed handgun and snatched the infant from his wife Mashal Fatima’s arms. He then shot the baby five times, police said. 

Fatima’s uncle was at the scene and tried to save Jannat, but Shazaib Khan pointed his gun at the family and threatened to kill them all before shooting the baby. Police said an autopsy revealed the baby died instantly from the bullet wounds. 

Shahzaib Khan fled the scene. Fatima’s uncle then filed a murder complaint against him.

In announcing the arrest of the “brutal father,” the Punjab Police said they would “punish the accused severely.” Zarrar Khan, the Mianwali police spokesperson, declined to give details of the investigation or say whether the accused has confessed, but added the police report registered by Fatima’s uncle “clearly details how he committed the crime.”

Shahzaib Khan graduated from college recently and held a menial job at a pharmacy. His family is working on a mental instability plea for him, Zarrar Khan said, adding that police “are convinced it is not so.”

The incident triggered outrage across Pakistan. “I am unable to process the mind-numbing incident of the killing of a baby girl. Utterly grotesque and barbaric,” reads a tweet by Shehbaz Sharif, the leader of the opposition in Pakistan’s National Assembly. 

Advertisement

The aftermath of the incident coincided with International Women’s Day, when activists and rights advocates protested the escalating violence against women and children in the country. 

The preference for male children is common across the deeply patriarchal South Asian countries like Pakistan and India. It has led to high cases of female foeticide and infanticide. 

In 2019, a Pakistani charity organisation recovered nearly 400 bodies of new-born babies, mostly girls, from garbage dumps across Karachi, the country’s largest city. Pakistan ranks high on gender inequality and has a skewed sex ratio that favours boys. 

The Population Research Institute, a non-profit group, found that out of the world’s 24 million sex-selective abortions between 2000 and 2014, over 1.2 million were estimated to have been carried out in Pakistan.

Follow Pallavi Pundir on Twitter.