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Pakistani minister charged over death of Canadian woman


Islamabad : Police in Pakistan have charged a cabinet member for keeping a Canadian woman in illegal confinement that resulted in her death, media reported on Tuesday.

The family of Kafila Siddiqui, a 40-year-old Canadian citizen of Pakistani origin, accused Minister of State for Communications Muhammad Shahid Jamil Qureshi of bringing about her death at his home, where she lived for the past two years.

Police subsequently searched the residence and detained his private secretary. But the minister was Tuesday still thought to be at liberty despite the charges brought against him.

"We are collecting evidence and the minister has been barred from leaving the country by putting his name on an Exit Control List," Islamabad police chief Zafar Iqbal told the Dawn newspaper.

While staying with the minister, Siddiqui was running a consultancy working to facilitate investment from Canada.

However, her Canada-based husband, Suleman Qaisar, had lodged a written complaint with Pakistani authorities through Interpol earlier this year accusing him of holding her against her will, Iqbal told the Geo news channel.

The minister denies the allegations, saying Siddiqui died of dehydration. He accused the victim's husband and siblings of trying to extort money from him by implicating him in the case.

Critics believe the alleged involvement of a member of ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League, could further politically damage the government of President Pervez Musharraf.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has reportedly sought Qureshi's resignation.