Pakistani model and social media starlet Qandeel Baloch has been murdered in the city of Multan, in an apparent ‘honor killing.’ Local media report Pakistan police as saying that she was killed by her younger brother, Daniyal Jugnnoo, aka Wasim, who is now on the run.
Reports differ as to whether Baloch was strangled or shot dead. They are also unclear as to whether her murder took place on Friday night or on Saturday.
Baloch, 26, real name Fouzia Azeem, had stoked controversy in the country by openly living a Westernized lifestyle and posting her exploits on social media including Facebook and Twitter. Divorced from her husband, she had been nicknamed ‘Pakistan’s Kim Jardashian,’ and ‘Pakistan’s first social media star.’
Her death divided online media on Saturday. Many celebrated the death of a woman who they said brought shame to Muslims as a whole and to her family in particular. Others mourned the passing of a modernizer and force for societal change.
Baloch shot to fame in 2014 with a viral video “How em looking?” and achieved notoriety this year with the promise to do a striptease if the Pakistan national cricket team won an international match. They lost and she did not strip.
She also posted videos, which were tame by Western standards, of her in swim suits and tight trousers. In another video she appeared on screen with a Mufti (Muslim cleric) and exchanged views about religion.
Pakistan, which in 2012 temporarily blocked access to YouTube, is one of several countries currently making moves to restrict freedom of speech online. In recent months the lower house of parliament has approved legislation that allows the Internet to be blocked for reasons of “integrity, security or defense.” Already the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority may have the power to require the removal of content it deems offensive.
Baloch’s last Facebook posting, on July 4, read: “At least international media can see what i am upto. How i am trying to change the typical orthodox mindset of people who don’t wanna come out of their shells of false beliefs and old practices.”
In recent weeks Baloch is understood to have asked for more security.
As befits her online celebrity, Twitter has photos and which appear to be her dead body.