Controversial social media sensation Qandeel Baloch’s brother was arrested by Pakistani police on the charge of murdering her to protect family honour, a suspected case of honour killing that activists say has become an epidemic in the country.
Police at Multan in Punjab province arrested Muhammad Waseem Baloch late on Saturday. Officials announced the arrest at a news conference where they presented an unrepentant Waseem to the media.
Waseem said he killed his sister Qandeel, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, for posting controversial pictures and videos on Facebook.
“She was bringing disrepute to our family’s honour and I could not tolerate it any further. I killed her around 11.30pm on Friday night when everyone else had gone to bed. My brother is not involved in the murder,” said the murderer before being taken away by the police.
Police had earlier said Qandeel’s brother was threatening her to stop posting photos and videos. No marks of torture were found on Qandeel’s body, said another senior police official.
Qandeel was in Multan to visit her parents as her father had been unwell, and spent Eid with her family. Her brother, identified by police as Waseem, went to meet her at night and suffocated her with a pillow when she was asleep.
Qandeel’s father Azeem told police his sons Aslam Shaheen and Waseem were responsible for their sister’s death. But Waseem said his brother had nothing to do with the killing, said Pakistan Today.
Aslam allegedly provoked Waseem to kill Qandeel as she reportedly “brought disrepute to the family”. Aslam is currently serving in the army as a Naib Subedar, Pakistan Today said.
Her father said his sons killed Baloch for her money. “My daughter was brave and I will not forget or forgive her brutal murder,” he was quoted as saying by Pakistani media.
Baloch shot to fame a couple of years ago with a series of racy selfies and photos on social media that shocked conservatives but made her an overnight internet sensation and won her thousands of fans, mostly young women.
The 25-year-old was seen as challenging the order laid down by the country’s religious orthodoxy that women say is restrictive of their freedoms.
The killing also focussed attention on the phenomenon of “honour killings” that has claimed hundreds of lives across Pakistan. The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has reported nearly 1,100 women were killed in 2015 by relatives who believed they had “dishonoured” their families.
The starlet had angered members of her family with her videos and suggestive social media posts, including a pledge to “strip dance” if Pakistan’s cricket team defeated arch-rival India in the ICC World T20 in March.
Qandeel recently said she had sought security after receiving death threats. Following a lukewarm response from the government, she announced that she planned to settle abroad.
In her last interview, Qandeel told a newspaper, “I know I will not be provided security and I am not feeling secured here, so I have decided to move abroad with my parents after Eid-ul-Fitr.”