The famous Pakistani blogger was strangled by her younger brother in the name of family “honour”. Her easy-going ways were disliked by orthodox Muslims. “Justice for many other women killed or burnt for ‘honour’ waits for years.”
Multan (AsiaNews May 4, 2018) – A court in Multan indicted five people in connection with one Pakistan’s most notorious cases of honour killing, namely the murder in July 2016 of Qandeel Baloch, a well-known model, blogger and youtuber.
One of those indicted is Imam Abdul Qavi, who was investigated for complicity right after the young woman was strangled by her younger brother Waseem Azaam to restore the family’s lost “honour”.
“Qandeel Baloch’s murder was a tragedy,” journalist Husnain Jamil told AsiaNews. “In Pakistan the number of honour killings is increasing due to the inadequate application of existing laws. We demand a fair and impartial trial to reduce the cases of violence against women.”
The young model was a controversial figure and her murder in 2016 was a cause célèbre. She was an iconic figure of female open-mindedness and courage, but by the standards of Pakistan’s male-dominated worldview, she was “too free”.
Her selfie with Islamic cleric Qavi (picture 2) caused scandal and led to a flood of criticism. For the model’s father, Azeem, the cleric was the instigator of the murder perpetrated by her younger brother Waseem.
During the trial, Azeem said that the imam offered him money to withdraw the charges against him. The next hearing is scheduled for 14 May.
Journalist Jamil hopes that “the lower court will follow the decision of the Supreme Court and come to a decision without being influenced by the pressures of influential people and religious figures.”
“The perpetrator,” he explained, “must be punished according to the law. What women decide to do with their lives is their business. They should not be used as an excuse to incite extreme violence against them.”
For Naseem Kousar, researcher and writer, “Although justice is being delivered, this won’t ensure the absolute application of the law, nor will it mean equality and equity for vulnerable and minority groups.”
“The case of Qandeel Baloch was solved quickly only because she was famous on social media and the pressure exerted by the national and international community. Justice for many other women killed or burnt for “honour’ waits for years. We need the rule of law to be applied in a neutral manner.”
According to Bilal Warraich, a lawyer and activist, “it is good that all five were indicted, including the imam, the one who was the trigger for everything. We must welcome these developments in a positive way, but with caution.”
“The judicial system has always been very dismal, and the same goes for the role of the police and the investigation teams. This is a case that the judiciary should treat as a ‘test case’, which, if treated judiciously, could stem the rot of the institution itself.”
In fact, “It could be another landmark, like the 1997 Saima Roparri case*. Conversely, Pakistan’s clergy might weigh in Imam Qavi’s favour. A big question mark remains as to whether justice will be served in Qandeel’s case.”
* Saima Roparri challenged the practice of arranged marriage and married the man she loved.