Qandeel Baloch: Brother of murdered social media Celebrity jailed

Qandeel Baloch: Brother of murdered social media Celebrity jailed

The brother of Pakistani social networking star Qandeel Baloch was jailed for life, three years after her murder. Reported by BBC News

Waseem confessed to strangling Ms Baloch, 26, in July 2016. At the moment, he explained it was because the celebrity had brought shame on the family.

He was reported to be upset by photos she had uploaded to social media.

On Friday, a court acquitted six other men charged in connection with the killing, such as spiritual scholar, Mufti Abdul Qavi.

Qandeel Baloch

Ms Baloch’s family had originally pointed the finger at the mufti, saying he had instigated the murder after he was criticised for carrying selfies with the social networking superstar a month prior to her death.

He has always denied any involvement.

Qandeel Baloch’s parents talk of pain
A murder which reflects a divided nation
Her brother Waseem can appeal against the sentence. His attorney, Sardar Mehmood, told news agency AFP that he expected Waseem Baloch would be”acquitted by a high court”.

Another brother, Arif, was declared a fugitive in regard to Ms Baloch’s death, the court stated.

What was the response?
In the courtroom in Multan, there were scenes of celebration over the acquittals – and tears over the certainty.

Photographs shared on social networking reveal Mufti Qavi being showered in rose petals as he left court, his assistants overjoyed with the verdict.

Qandeel Baloch

Meanwhile, Ms Baloch’s mother wept tears for her son.

“He’s innocent,” Anwar Mai told reporters before the sentence was handed down. She and her husband attempted to free Waseem last month, stating they forgave their son for killing their daughter.

On the internet, there was anger for Ms Baloch. Many described their reaction to the verdict as”bittersweet”, and expressed fear that – despite the certainty – things might not change for women in Pakistan.

“It took three years to get a judgement for her brother,” Sanam Maher – the author of a book on Ms Qandeel – tweeted.

“I wonder how long it will take us to recognise that we should not let ourselves off the hook, our social structure is rotten & functions against people like #Qandeel who would like to make something of themselves in their terms,” she added.

‘A sad reflection of rural life’
Evaluation by BBC Pakistan correspondent Ilyas Khan

Qandeel Baloch made headlines before her murder shocked the nation. After, she provided on Facebook to”strip to the country” if Pakistan beat India in cricket. Then she posted selfies using a famous cleric, Mufti Abdul Qavi, in fashions that conveyed intimacy.

So when she was murdered, many – including her family – pointed fingers at Mufti Qavi. This was Qandeel’s brother admitting on camera that he did it all by himself.

He’d retract that statement during the trial – stating that it had been given under duress – that might be the reason he avoided capital punishment. He can appeal the judgment on the exact same ground.

But while there might be a feeling of relief among quarters sensitive to human and women’s rights, the twists and turns which affected Qandeel’s parents are a sad reflection of life in rural Pakistan.

Who was Qandeel Baloch?
Qandeel Baloch was Pakistan’s first social networking star. She was born Fouzia Azeem, and came from a poor family in a city about 400km (248 kilometers ) south-west of Lahore.

Often dubbed the Kim Kardashian of Pakistan, she had hundreds of thousands of followers on social networking. She posted pictures and videos of herself twerking and singing, breaking strict taboos in conservative Pakistan.

As she became popular, she had been paid to market products on her social networking accounts and appeared in music videos.

After her rise to fame in 2014, it appeared that she had been married as a teenager and had a kid. But she maintained her husband was a”barbarous guy” who abused her and she fled with her son, living for a while in a refuge.

But she was not able to support the baby and returned to her husband, who has always denied treating her badly.

By 2015, she was named one of the top 10 Googled people in Pakistan.

As she continued uploading contentious posts, she had been warned by her electronic branding consultant she was going too far. Junaid Qasi told the Guardian that she refused to listen.

What happened to Qandeel Baloch?
Ms Baloch was encouraged to meet Mufti Abdul Qavi in Karachi during the holy month of Ramadan. She posted selfies with him to her social networking accounts. In one image, she’s sporting his signature sheepskin cap.

He was criticised for acting inappropriately by associating with a disreputable woman. He had been humiliated and his membership of a religious committee revoked.

Shortly after, Ms Baloch was found dead in her bed.

Her brother Waseem said he drugged and then strangled her “for dishonouring” the family name.

Women’s rights in Pakistan
According to the World Economic Forum, Pakistan is the second worst country in the world concerning gender parity. Women hold fewer than 7% of managerial positions.

Early marriage remains a significant problem in Pakistan, with 21 percent of women in the nation marrying before age 18, and 3 percent marrying before 15.

Over five million primary school age children in Pakistan aren’t in college, most of these are women , according to Human Rights Watch.

There were 35,935 female suicides between 2014 and 2016 based on figures by White Ribbon Pakistan.

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