A four-year-old girl who had gone missing while playing outside her house in northwest Pakistan, was found strangled to death in a sugarcane field on Sunday.
Asama went missing from her house in Mardan on January 13 and was found the next day at 3pm in a sugarcane field in the Jandarpar Gujjar Garhi district after search efforts by the police and her family.
Doctors have confirmed that Asma was sexually assaulted and tortured before being strangled to death.
District mayor Himayatullah Mayar told Al Jazeera: “I have seen the autopsy report of Asma and it clearly says that she was raped before being strangled to death.
“She comes from a very poor family, her father is a labour worker in Saudi Arabia.
“Asma was just playing outside of her house when she was kidnapped.”
Police confirmed that the child died of asphyxiation and were investigating the claim of rape.
District police officer Mian Saeed told local media: “According to the forensic report, the girl was subjected to violence.
“However, we cannot confirm if she was raped or not until we get the complete report.”
The incident comes as the country reels from the recent rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab Ansari, a case which ignited widespread protests and initiated a national dialogue about the sexual abuse of children in the country.
The Chief Minister of Punjab, Shehbaz Sharif, while speaking to media in Kasur, stated that just like Zainab, Aasma is also the “daughter of the nation.”
“Does Aasma also not deserve these same tears and prayers?” Mr Sharif said.
He also requested all politicians to stop engaging in politics over such incidents.
Mr Sharif added: “I request that we shouldn’t incite emotions of the public [over such incidents].
“The people belong to an oppressed nation. The nation is seeking justice. Justice is being sought for both Zainab and Aasma.”