18 Jul 2016

Brother arrested for murder of Pakistan celebrity

9:42 am on 18 July 2016

The brother of Pakistani social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch has been arrested for her murder.

The brother, Muhammad Waseem, 25, was arrested for her murder in Dera Ghazi Khan in central Pakistan on Saturday night (local time).

Pakistani social media celebrity, Qandeel Baloch arrives for a press conference in Lahore on June 28, 2016.

Qandeel Baloch was a social media celebrity. Photo: AFP

The Pakistan newspaper Dawn reported he had confessed to the murder, saying he drugged and strangled her "for dishonouring the Baloch name".

Qandeel Baloch, 26, became a household name for posting sometimes raunchy photographs, comments and videos.

She recently caused controversy by posting pictures of herself alongside a Muslim cleric.

Dawn quoted her brother as saying: "She wasn't aware I was killing her. I gave her a tablet and then strangled her."

Muhammad Waseem has been arrested for the murder of his sister, social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch.

Muhammad Waseem said he killed his sister. Photo: AFP

"I am not ashamed. We are Baloch and as Baloch we cannot tolerate [this]", he said, speaking after his arrest.

He pointed to videos his sister had made, and specifically the images taken with the cleric, Mufti Abdul Qavi.

Police said the brother had escaped to Dera Ghazi Khan after the killing in the Karimabad area of Multan early on Saturday morning.

They said he fled with two friends who were still being sought.

More than 500 people - almost all women - die in Pakistan each year in such killings, usually carried out by members of the victim's family meting out punishment for bringing "shame" on the community.

Ms Baloch, whose real name was Fouzia Azeem, was buried on Sunday morning in her ancestral village near Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab province.

Images from the scene showed scores of people attending the services.

Pakistani relatives and residents carry the coffin of social media celebrity, Qandeel Baloch during her funeral in Shah Sadar Din village,

Pakistani relatives and residents carry the coffin of Ms Baloch during her funeral in Shah Sadar Din village. Photo: AFP

Mufti Qavi, who said he had forgiven Ms Baloch for her actions, had offered to lead the funeral prayers, reports said.

Ms Baloch had built up a large social media fan-base, with 43,000 Twitter followers and more than 700,000 on Facebook.

She was well aware of the opposition she faced but continued to post defiant tweets.

One on Thursday read: "I will not give up. I will reach for my goal & absolutely nothing will stop me."

Ms Baloch rose to fame in 2014 when a video of her pouting at the camera and asking "How em looking?" went viral.

In a recent interview she was bitterly critical of Pakistan's patriarchal society and described herself as a leading exponent of girl power.

While many younger people saw her as a cultural icon and hailed her liberal views, she was also subjected to frequent misogynist abuse online.

Ms Baloch had gone to Punjab from Karachi because of the threat to her security, police said.

Her request for better security was ignored by the government, Dawn reported, despite pleas made three weeks ago to the Interior Minister and other senior officials.

-BBC / Reuters

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