A young Pakistani woman who has generated controversies over her liberal views and posting of selfie on social media has been murdered by her own brother in the country’s highest profile honour killing.
Qandeel Baloch, 26, dubbed “Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian” became famous for her social media stunts in contradiction of Pakistan’s conservative values. She generated much controversy when she promised to strip for Pakistan’s cricket team if they beat India in the recent cricket T20 World Cup.
Qandeel’s Facebook page which has over 750,000 followers has been under constant threat over her provocative “selfie” photographs had 750,000 followers.
Her death sparked an outpouring of grief on Twitter and other social media websites and reignited a debate about honour killings in Pakistan.
Police in Punjab state said she had been strangled to death as she slept in her family home in the city of Multan.
“Her father Azeem informed the police that his son Waseem has strangled Qandeel,” said Nabeela Ghazanfar, a police spokeswoman.
“Apparently, it is an honour killing but further investigations will reveal the real motives behind this murder.”
In just the past few weeks, Ms Baloch had courted fresh controversy by dancing provocatively in a YouTube music video and posting online a series of light-hearted “selfie” photographs taken with a senior Muslim cleric during Ramadan.
The cleric, Mufti Abdul Qavi, was subsequently suspended from the influential theological committee which declares the start and end of Ramadan according to the appearance of a full moon.
In light of the latter controversy, Ms Baloch had written to Pakistani security officials requesting protection after receiving threatening phone calls and seeing her personal details leaked online, including a scanned copy of her passport.
Ms Baloch, whose real name is Fauzia Azeem, began modelling in her early 20s after escaping from an unhappy teenage marriage.
She quickly established a large social media following and “reality” celebrity status with her savvy use of Facebook and Instagram.
Ms Baloch was popular among many young Pakistanis for her refusal to censor her behaviour in the face of frequent condemnation.
She once proclaimed Sunny Leone, the former adult film star turned Bollywood actress, as one of her role models.
However, Ms Baloch also considered herself a champion of women’s rights in Pakistan. Just hours before her death, she wrote on Facebook: “I believe I am a modern day feminist. I believe in equality…I am just a women [sic] with free thoughts, free mindset and I love the way I am.”
Hundreds of women are killed every year in Pakistan – often by their own family members – for violating the country’s conservative norms regarding love and marriage.