LAHORE: The brother of slain social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch was arrested by police in Dera Ghazi Khan late Saturday night and confessed to killing her in the name of 'honour'.
Qandeel, who was also a model and an actress, was strangled to death in her house in Multan's Karimabad area in the early hours of Saturday morning. Her father claimed that she was killed by her younger brother, Waseem, in the name of honour.
Waseem, accompanied by police, confessed in a press conference that he had drugged and strangled his sister, adding that the motive behind the murder was that "she brought dishonour to the Baloch name" due to risque videos and statements that she posted on social media.
"There are other issues as well... Like the maulvi issue," he said, in a apparent reference to a recent controversy surrounding Qandeel's selfies with Mufti Qavi.
"She was on the ground floor while our parents were asleep on the roof top," he continued. “It was around 10:45 pm when I gave her a tablet... and then killed her.
"She wasn't aware I was killing her," he said.
Waseem said he acted alone. "I am not embarrassed at all over what I did," he said.
City police chief Azhar Akram said Waseem had killed her by covering her mouth and nose. "After that he fled to Dera Ghazi Khan with two of his friends. We are working on catching the friends and I expect they will also be caught soon. After speaking to them, we will be able to determine whether they were involved or not."
Azhar said authorities will charge Azeem with carrying out a so-called honour killing and seek the "maximum punishment".
Qandeel's father, Muhammad Azeem said in a First Information Report that his daughter came to Multan from Karachi to celebrate Eid with the family. He said that Waseem, 25, also came to meet them on July 14.
He said that he along with his wife went to sleep on the rooftop while Qandeel slept in a room where Waseem strangled her to death as he was against her working in showbiz.
He alleged that Waseem had taken this extreme step at the behest of his brother Mohammad Aslam Shaheen.
Qandeel's funeral was held early Sunday (today) near her family home in Shah Saddardin, Dera Ghazi Khan.
'Qandeel was a very nice girl'
“Qandeel took the single-storey small house on rent about one and a half years ago,” a neighbour in Multan told Dawn.
He said that earlier she lived in a house in the same locality for more than two years but left it after its owner sold his property. He said Qandeel’s parents were living in her hometown of Shah Saddardin in Dera Ghazi Khan district.
“She came to Multan from Karachi rarely for a few days and called her parents to come and live with her,” the neighbour said, adding that her parents had been living in Multan for a couple of months because her father had broken his leg in a road accident and they had to stay here for his treatment.
He said the rent of the house and expenditures of her parents were being borne by Qandeel.
A woman neighbour said Qandeel was looking for a bride for Waseem these days.
She said she had visited the model last night and her brother was watching television while she was in another room and everything was fine.
“It is unbelievable. Qandeel was a very nice girl,” she added.
Who is Qandeel Baloch?
Qandeel, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, was born in March 1990, according to a copy of her passport.
She shot to fame in 2014 through her tireless self-promotion and suggestive "selfies" posted on social media, and had amassed tens of thousands of followers.
"Nothing is good in this society. This patriarchal society is bad," Qandeel had said in a recent interview with Images.
In one of her last Facebook posts, Qandeel reiterated her unapologetic approach: "No matter how many times I will be pushed down under... I am a fighter, I will bounce back."
"Qandeel Baloch [is an] inspiration to ladies who are treated badly... I know you will keep on hating, who cares?" wrote Qandeel, who often referred to herself as a "one-woman army".
She was derided and feted in equal measure in Pakistan, but the popularity of her videos evidence frustrations of many young people tired of being told how to behave.
Qandeel’s controversial selfie with Mufti Abdul Qavi hit the headlines last month. She had thousands of followers on social media.
At a press conference on June 28 in Lahore, Qandeel had said she had been receiving threats from unknown people and demanded security. She said she had also written to the interior ministry, informing it about the threats.
Earlier this month, Qandeel released a music video which she starred in alongside little known young singer Aryan Khan. Titled 'Ban,' the music video touched on Qandeel's status as a controversial social media icon, and was provocative given Pakistan's conservative standards for entertainment.
Recently, a man from Kot Adu claimed that Qandeel was his wife and they had a son. Qandeel confirmed his claims, saying she was forced into the marriage.
Interview with Images: 'My boldness is my revenge'
Images: Can you tell us how your marriage took place? What happened?
Qandeel Baloch: I didn’t run away from home. I’ve been dealing with the problem all day, telling everyone, attending their calls, telling the media. Media is not supporting me. They’re saying that I want to marry Imran Khan but I’m already married. This is wrong. What about my self-worth? My identity? I am a social media sensation, I am a fashion icon. I don’t know HOW many girls have felt support through my persona. I’m a girl power. So many girls tell me I’m a girl power, and yes, I am.
I was 17 years old when my parents forced an uneducated man on me. The abuse I have been through… It happens in places like this, in small villages, in Baloch families. This happened to me too.
"I never accepted him as my husband in my heart or mind," says Qandeel of her husband.
I said, ‘No, I don’t want to spend my life this way’. I was not made for this. It was my wish since I was a child to become something, to be able to stand on my own two feet, to do something for myself.
But then they married me off when I was 17, 18. I was not happy and never accepted him as my husband. What do you think will happen in a forced marriage? With an uneducated man, an animal. What would I say, that I am already married? Why would I say it?
I never accepted him as my husband in my heart or mind. How I spent a year and a half with him, only I know. And I only did it because of the child. Otherwise I wouldn’t have spent even one month with him.
Images: Why do you call him an animal?
Qandeel: He is. The kind of torture he has inflicted on me, you can’t even imagine. Why? Because I was cute, I was young. He was older than me. He didn’t trust me. I don’t know why. I couldn’t connect with him on an intellectual level. Our ideas were very different.
Then I had a child, so I sacrificed. I spent a year and a half with him. After the child, I told him I want to study. I want to complete my education, I want to get a job, I want to stand on my own two feet. But he never agreed.
My family never supported me. I would say I don’t want to live with him, but they didn’t support me. That man tried to throw acid on me. He said ‘I’ll burn your face because you’re so beautiful’. And today the media isn’t giving me any credit for speaking about empowerment of women, girl power.
They don’t recognise that this girl fought. Today I am capable of taking on the burden of an entire household. But no one gives me credit for that.
Images: Can you tell us a little bit more about your journey? Last time we spoke, you said you were around 17-18 when your parents let you do TV serials on PTV.
Qandeel: I was 17-18 when I got married. When I was 19 years old… I had a child within one year. Then there were fights, arguments, being violent with me. Then when my family didn’t support me, I ran away and found support in Darul Aman. That was my right.
I didn’t know what I would do ahead. It was in Multan. The child was with me. I had kept him with me because he was really young. He fell ill in Darul Aman. He was so sick, everyone told me that I should give him back to his father, that if anything happened to him, God forbid, they would do a case on me. I had to give my son back to them.
After that, I was discharged from there. I thought now I am capable of doing this on my own. I did a job, I completed my Matric and my Bachelors. I did a marketing job, I worked as a bus hostess, I did a lot of jobs, I struggled a lot. I got out from there. The first thing I did when I got out of Darul Aman was my Matric. Then I did my Bachelors privately, I kept doing it. I did quite few jobs, in Daewoo, in Lever Brothers. Quite a few jobs. Then after a while, I started working in showbiz.
Images: When did you start working in showbiz?
Qandeel: It was about 2012, 2013. I started from zero. Small fashion shows, small photoshoots. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen a lot of things up close. I married my sister off, I gave jahez (dowry) for her wedding, I tried to keep relations going with my family, I bought a house for them in Multan. My parents are settled in Multan, my house is there.
Now today all of this is happening, people are filing cases against me. Now he’s standing up and saying I’m his wife. Where was he before?
Images: Are you divorced?
Qandeel: Yes, I got divorced.
Images: But it wasn’t a written divorce?
Qandeel: Talaaq ho gayi thi, khula ho gaya tha.
Images: So if you’re divorced, why is he only surfacing now?
Qandeel: I don’t know. I can’t understand.
Images: Has he been in touch with you?
Qandeel: No, we haven’t had any contact.
Images: Would you like to talk about your child?
Qandeel: What should I say about my child? It’s his child. His son.
Images: How do you feel about him [your child]?
Qandeel: I tried a lot to keep him close to me. But they didn’t let me speak to him. I thought when my child is older, he’ll understand, he’ll see the environment there and feel that his mother was right, that she did what was right.
Images: Given your upbringing, how did you reach where you are today? You say that you’ve done really bold stuff. How did this happen?
Qandeel: I’ve fought with everyone . And now I have become so headstrong that I only do what I want. I started working in showbiz, I faced so many difficulties, you know what happens with girls here. You know what kinds of offers they make girls here. You know how they try to misuse girls who are new to the industry.
You could say that this is my revenge [from this country]. I don’t do these things happily.
Images: What do you mean what you do is an act of revenge?
Qandeel: Nothing is good in this society. This mardon ki society (patriarchal society) is bad. You probably know this already, think about the problems you face yourself.
Being a girl, think yourself, how difficult it is to move around as a woman in this society. How many men do you encounter who bother you? The same way, I have struggled through difficulties to make a place for myself in showbiz. It was very difficult. What kind of problems I have faced, I don’t think anyone can understand.
I want to give my followers a positive message, I want to give those girls a positive message who have been forcefully married, who continue to sacrifice. I want to be an example for those people. That’s my aim.