Brother who slew celeb sis has 'no regrets'

Social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch (left) was strangled by her brother Muhammad Waseem, who admitted to the murder yesterday. The killing has shocked Pakistan.
Social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch (above) was strangled by her brother Muhammad Waseem, who admitted to the murder yesterday. The killing has shocked Pakistan.
Social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch (left) was strangled by her brother Muhammad Waseem, who admitted to the murder yesterday. The killing has shocked Pakistan.
Social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch was strangled by her brother Muhammad Waseem (above), who admitted to the murder yesterday. The killing has shocked Pakistan.

KARACHI • The brother of Ms Qandeel Baloch, whose risque social media posts both titillated and appalled conservative Pakistan, yesterday admitted to strangling her in a crime that reignited debate about so-called "honour killings" in the South Asian nation.

Muhammad Waseem said he gave a "tablet" to Ms Baloch to subdue her and then strangled her in their family home over the weekend. "I have no regrets," he told journalists in a press conference arranged by the police yesterday after he was arrested.

The killing sent shockwaves across Muslim Pakistan and triggered an outpouring of grief on social media for Ms Baloch, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem.

In Facebook posts, Ms Baloch, 26, spoke of trying to change "the typical orthodox mindset" of people in Pakistan. She faced frequent misogynist abuse and death threats, but continued to post provocative pictures and videos.

"As per our initial investigation, 'honour' is the motive of murder," said Multan police chief Azhar Ikram, where Ms Baloch was killed.

More than 500 people - almost all women - die in Pakistan each year in such killings, usually carried out by members of the victim's family meting out punishment for bringing "shame" on the community.

Waseem said he killed his sister due to her social media activities, which included a series of posts with prominent Muslim cleric Abdul Qavi. One video shows her sitting on the cleric's lap.

Mr Qavi, who was suspended from a prominent Muslim council in the ensuing controversy, told local media after Ms Baloch's death he had "forgiven her".

After her death, many Pakistanis again called for the passage of an anti-honour killing law, aimed at closing a loophole that allows family members to forgive the killers.

Ms Baloch, who called herself a modern-day feminist, was described as Pakistan's Kim Kardashian and built a modelling career on the back of her social media fame.

"As women we must stand up for ourselves. As women, we must stand up for each other," she told her 758,000 followers on Facebook days before her death.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2016, with the headline 'Brother who slew celeb sis has 'no regrets''. Print Edition | Subscribe