The father of eight-year-old Zainab Ansari, who was raped and murdered near her home in Kasur, Pakistan, has slammed police for negligence in tracking down the culprits.
Zainab was kidnapped while she was walking to her Quran studies class on 4 January. CCTV footage shows her being led away by a man dressed in white. The girl's body was found dumped in a rubbish heap on Tuesday (9 January). She had been strangled and raped.
Ameen Ansari, who was away on a pilgrimage in Mecca at the time of his daughter's murder, has accused the police in Kasur of negligence and said that an immediate response when the alarm was raised could have saved Zainab's life.
"The police showed negligence over the last five days. Prompt action by the police could have saved my daughter," he told Geo News on Wednesday (10 January).
Ansari said he did not recognise the man in the CCTV video but said police should have optimised the images of the suspect caught on tape to trace him. If police had done this, "[my] daughter could have been rescued alive", he suggested.
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has assured Zainab's family that an investigation has been opened and that the culprit[s] will soon be caught, Ansari said.
Violent protests erupted in Pakistan after the girl's body was found, leaving at least two people dead and several injured. Her murder sparked outrage across Pakistan, with #JusticeForZainab trending on Twitter.
Zainab is the eighth minor to have been raped and murdered in the city of Kasur in the past year.
Pakistan's Opposition leader, Imran Khan, wrote on Twitter: "The condemnable & horrific rape & murder of little Zainab exposes once again how vulnerable our children are in our society.
"This is not the first time such horrific acts have happened. We have to act swiftly to punish the guilty & ensure that our children are better protected."
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said: "The beasts who have disrespected our daughters should be punished immediately."