Mohammad Azeem, father of Qandeel Baloch, the Pakistani model, actress, and internet celebrity who was murdered by her own brother in a case of ‘honour killing’ on 15 July, now wants his son shot on sight.
“I say he should be shot on sight! He suffocated my little one. We were drugged, asleep upstairs. She must have called out to us,” Qandeel’s father said in an interview to BBC Urdu.
Qandeel was first drugged and then strangled by her brother, Mohammad Waseem, who was later arrested by the police. Waseem was quoted as saying that he killed her as she brought disrepute to the family.
Baloch was something of an internet celebrity through her ‘risque’ pictures and videos. She had released her video ‘Ban‘ a few days before her death. She had said that she was concerned about her security as she had received threats. She had even appealed to the Interior Ministry of Pakistan to provide her with security.
After her death, Baloch’s father said that he had lost his best friend. He even called his son, Waseem Muhammad, “crazed” for objecting to Qandeel’s outspoken personality.
In their first interview with BBC Urdu, Baloch’s parents said that they had also been drugged on the night of her murder. “My husband and I fell asleep. We had drunk the milk that had been mixed with sedatives,” said Baloch’s mother. When she tried waking her up in the morning, she found bruises on her face and tongue and her lips were black. “In the morning, I called Qandeel for breakfast… but she didn’t get up,” she said.
Qandeel Baloch claimed that she was stuck in an abusive marriage at the age of 17. She also had a son from that marriage. Two years into the marriage, she left her husband and sought refuge at a women’s shelter. After her separation, she was not given custody of her son. She became a professional model and media celebrity post her separation. Baloch was once quoted as saying that her parents did not support her decision to walk out of her marriage, in spite of her suffering abuse. “My family never supported me. I would say I don’t want to live with him, but they didn’t support me,” she said in one of her interviews.
Her original name was Fauzia Azeem. She chose the name Qandeel Baloch for herself to protect her parent’s identity as she felt that her family wouldn’t approve of her working in the glamour industry. In spite of these moral entanglements, she supported her parents financially.
Her bold persona that defied the patriarchal conventions in Pakistan, continued to receive flak even after her death. Many were found celebrating her death, deeming Waseem’s actions to be appropriate. After her death, her social media accounts were filled with comments ranging from how she was a “whore”, a “prostitute”, and “deserved” death for her activities. Other comments were filled with remorse, condemning her brother’s actions. None of these accounts are available anymore. Their erasure removed every bit of evidence of her path to popularity as ‘Qandeel Baloch – the social media sensation’.
Strangely enough, before her death, Qandeel Baloch was often ridiculed by the same news sites that are now publishing ‘heartfelt’ obituaries about her. “The supposed actress-model-wannabe aunty stood out with style, strode into the audition room atop her six-inch stilettos and promptly debauched a Hadiqa Kiani number to the point that even the pop queen was forced to disown the song,” wrote Pakistani news site Dawn in October, last year. Post her murder, the same site published an article about how she was an unapologetic rebel.
Even when her selfie with Muslim cleric Qawi created quite a stir, Baloch didn’t think her picture would be bad enough to trigger his suspension from the religious committee. “How can I threaten anyone’s honour when I have been repeatedly told that I have no honour?” she asked when questions of ‘dishonouring’ the cleric poured in.
Qandeel Baloch is yet another name added to the list of ‘honour killings’ in Pakistan. In its recent annual report, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan quoted that nearly 1,100 women were killed by their own kin for bringing ‘dishonour’ to the family in 2015. Another recent horrifying incident was that of a 16-year-old girl who was burnt alive by her own mother for marrying without the family’s consent. “The predominant causes of these killings in 2015 were domestic disputes, alleged illicit relations and exercising the right of choice in marriage,” the report said. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, a short film director, won the Oscar this year for A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, a documentary on ‘honour killing’ in the country. A provision in the Pakistani legal system allows the acquittal of murderers if they are pardoned by the victim’s family. In the case of ‘honour killings’ where the perpetrators are themselves the family members of the victim, this loophole is exploited to evade punishment. But with Baloch’s case shedding light on this rampant phenomenon in the country, the ruling party of Pakistan has vowed to curb such killings by bringing in new laws.
Photo credits: Dawn.com and Storypick.com