World

Social media celeb strangled by brother

Honour killing over her controversial online activities

She had courted controversy by promising to strip dance for the Pakistani cricket team during a World Cup tournament in March.

And when The Times of India asked Qandeel Baloch to name a Bollywood star she was willing to strip for, the 26-year-old Pakistani social media celebrity replied that "she will strip only for Amitabh Bachchan".

Ms Baloch's raunchy selfies polarised her deeply conservative Muslim country, but they were put to a stop on Friday when she suffered a gruesome death. She was allegedly strangled by her brother.

She was admired by many of the country's youth for her willingness to break social taboos, but she was also condemned and reviled by those more traditional.

Her murder happened near the city of Multan, Punjab, police said.

"Qandeel Baloch has been killed. She was strangled to death by her brother. Apparently it was an incident of honour killing," Mr Sultan Azam, a senior police officer in Multan, told AFP.

Police were informed by her family that the killing had taken place on Friday night.

"The brother was also there last night, and the family told us that he strangled her to death," Mr Azhar Akram, another senior police officer in Multan, told AFP.

Police said Ms Baloch's brother is on the run.

Ms Baloch, a single mother and model, shot to fame in Pakistan in 2014 after a video of her pouting at the camera went viral.

Known for her liberal views and forthrightness, Ms Baloch, who posed with mullahs and in plunging dresses for selfies, was frequently subjected to misogynist abuse online.

She had reportedly spoken of leaving Pakistan after the Hari Raya holidays, fearing for her safety.

The police said she was threatened by her family, who wanted her to quit modelling and cease her provocative appearances on social media.

Her brother had been threatening her over her Facebook posts and videos, added the police.

SECURITY

Three weeks ago, Ms Baloch had written to the interior minister, the director general of the Federal Investigation Authority, and other officials asking them to provide security for her, Pakistan newspaper Dawn reported.

She had said that her life was in danger, that she was being threatened via calls, and that she did not have security measures installed in her home, the newspaper said.

News of her murder trended on social media in Pakistan, with liberal users calling for action over her killing. But others condemned her relentless self-promotion.

Twitter user JiaAli wrote: "Someone had to do it. She was a disgrace."

But Facebook user Zaair Hussain said: "RIP Qandeel Baloch. You made us laugh, and you made us applaud... I think history will remember you as a provocateur, a living exhibit, a larger than life role - just as you would want to be remembered."

Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, whose documentary A Girl In The River: The Price of Forgiveness won an Oscar earlier this year, told AFP that the murder would make women feel less safe.

Ms Obaid-Chinoy said: "I really feel that no woman is safe in this country until we start making examples of people, until we start sending men who kill women to jail, unless we literally say there will be no more killing, and those who dare will spend the rest of their lives behind bars."

Her film was hailed by Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who in February vowed to push through anti-honour killing legislation.

But no action has been taken since then, despite a fresh wave of attacks on women that have been condemned by activists.

Said Ms Obaid-Chinoy: "Not only does the bill need to go through, but the cases of honour killings all need to be expedited, and we start sending people to jail.

"Activists have screamed themselves hoarse. When will it stop?"

pakistanMurderpoliceQANDEEL BALOCHSTRIP DANCEstranglebrotherselfiesmodellingcontroversy