Who killed Qandeel Baloch?

Is the murder of the social media star a typical case of honour killing?

Who killed Qandeel Baloch?
In a society obsessed with discriminatory gender roles, Qandeel Baloch was guarding the honour of her family by providing for her elderly parents. Her brothers, who killed her, had failed to fulfill that responsibility.

“I am receiving life threatening phone calls from Mufti Abdul Qavi. My life is in danger and it is the responsibility of the government to protect me,” Qandeel had told reporters 25 days before her death. She had also asked the interior minister, the FIA, and a senior police officer in Islamabad for security. But nobody paid heed, because they believed it was a gimmick to achieve fame.

The 26-year-old social media star was murdered in her own house. Her brother Waseem held her hands and feet as her cousin Haq Nawaz strangled her, according to reports following a polygraph test. The two men had given her sedatives, police believes. She was on the ground floor, and her parents say they were sleeping unaware on the roof of the house. “I have no regrets,” Waseem told reporters during a police press conference last month.
"Her father has changed his statement thrice"

The murder is being seen as a typical honour-killing – a common phenomenon in south Punjab. In most such cases, the parents are co-conspirators, and use their right as complainants to pardon the suspect.

But Qandeel’s brother-in-law believes that is not the case. He told me her father had stopped her from coming to Multan because he knew her brother begrudged her. He says Waseem had been angry since her video and photographs with famous cleric Mufti Abdul Qavi came out on social media. “Her parents were the only people in the family who were happy with her,” he told me.

Nabeela Ghazanfar, a spokeswoman for the Inspector General of Punjab police, said that the parents cannot pardon their son in this case, after the addition of Section 311 to the violations.

“Her father has changed his statement thrice,” a stationhouse officer in Muzaffarabad told me. “The autopsy report contradicts his statements.” According to report, she was killed between 9pm and 10pm, but her parents say she was killed between 2am to 3am when they were sleeping. The sedatives given to Qandeel were her father’s medicines, Waseem has said. But he also says his father had stopped him from killing her thrice, saying she was not home when she was.

Qandeel’s mother has said Mufti Muhammad Qavi had been provoking Waseem and her former husband Ashiq, the SHO said.

Mufti Qavi has denied the allegation, but was questioned by the police. In a written statement he said he had not been in contact with anyone in Qandeel Baloch’s family after her murder, and had nothing to do with the murder.

Another police official told me a third suspect, Basit, may also be involved. He was waiting outside the house and fled with them to Dera Ghazi Khan.

There are conflicting reports about Basit. He is believed to be a taxi driver, but some police officials say he was also a relative of Qandeel. Mufti Qavi has denied reports that Basit is related to him.