The sister and cousin of social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch have reportedly been arrested by Pakistani police for their “possible involvement” in the “honor killing” of the star known as “Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian.”
On July 16, Qandeel Baloch was killed in the city of Multan in Punjab, Pakistan, by Waseem Azeem, her brother, who said he was “proud” to have drugged and strangled his sister to death for “dishonoring” their family.
“Shahnaz and Haq Nawaz, Qandeel’s sister and cousin, have been taken into custody for investigation in her murder case,” an investigation officer told reporters, according to the Hindustan Times.
The Indian newspaper adds:
A judicial magistrate extended the physical remand of Waseem into police custody on Monday for another three days for interrogation.
Waseem, in his confession, claimed to have acted alone and said he had drugged and strangled his sister in the name of honor.
Nevertheless, police arrested the victim’s sister and cousin on Monday for their possible link to the gruesome crime.
Police are also investigating Mohammad Aslam, Qandeel’s older brother. He is accused of encouraging the younger brother, Waseem, to kill Qandeel, a model.
The Hindustan Times quotes senior police officer Ali Mardan as saying that authorities are also planning to interrogate Muslim cleric Mufti Abdul Qavi this week.
Qandeel’s mother claimed Mufti Qavi inspired her son to carry out the murder.
“Qavi was embroiled in a controversy with Qandeel when she uploaded her pictures with him on her Facebook account,” reports the Hindustan Times. “Qavi, who was suspended from the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee in the controversy following the [social media] posts, has also been included in the murder inquiry by the police.”
The committee that the Islamic cleric was serving on is tasked with sighting the moon for the announcement of the beginning and end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Waseem, the victim’s brother, indicated that after the Islamic cleric’s removal from the panel, he felt he had no choice but to murder his sister to prevent her from continuing to “dishonor” the family.
Qandeel reportedly accused the “hypocrite” Qavi of major infractions, including making sexual advances to her and drinking a Coca-Cola in her presence during Ramadan. The accusations came after she met with him, which is considered an indiscretion in and of itself given that Qavi has no familial relationship to the social media star and they reportedly met alone.
During their meeting in June, Qandeel took selfies and posted them on social media.
“I have unveiled a man who was leading the people towards ignorance in the name of Islam,” she wrote in a statement following Qavi’s denials of her allegations against him.
To no avail, Qandeel demanded protection from Pakistani government after she received death threats following her meeting with the Islamic cleric. The government ignored her request.
If a family member in Pakistan officially forgives an honor killing, the state cannot bring charges against the murderer. However, the state of Pakistan has inserted itself as a complainant in Qandeel’s murder, a move that prohibits the family from dropping charges against her brother.
The Hindustan Times also reports that “after Qandeel’s murder, the [Pakistani] government has announced enacting law to remove a loophole allowing other family members to pardon a killer.”
Besides the controversy surrounding her meeting with the Islamic cleric, Qandeel also used her social media stardom to condemn her family for forcing her into an abusive marriage.