The Life and Death of Qandeel Baloch

A retrospective timeline of her life and her unfortunate loss

Qandeel Baloch was an actress and a model having gained quick widespread fame from the social media platform in Pakistan. Her career, unfortunately very short lived could have said to have been taking off right after her involvement in certain events that caused multiple media storms in Pakistan. Again, sadly, Qandeel or Fauzia Azeem got on the wrong side of things. The controversy surrounding various aspects of her life boiled down to a sad ending in which her brother took away her life during her visit to her parents house on the Eid-ul-Fitr holidays. Initial reports suggested that she was shot, but later on after autopsy was conducted it was revealed that her life was ended in a very barbaric and brutal manner.  

She was strangled to death in her sleep –  a very painful way to die and the most sadistic way to murder. The brother who is said to have carried out the homicide was arrested later on and according to a press conference held by police he declared that he had carried out the murder for “honor”. She had brought shame upon the family’s name and this caused him huge embarrassment. The honorable man had also run of with her jewelry and other belongings. 

When thought about from the perspective of this event usually taking place in Pakistan , this particular claim by him would make sense to his own circle that hail from the same mental school of thought. After all, this woman was crossing all the lines of moral indecency and in addition to that she had become involved with powerful individuals who did not hesitate in giving her death threats. She had it coming to her, they would think and say. 

Killing anyone for whatever reason is wrong, since it becomes certain that the one doing so is attempting to play God himself, so in effect it becomes a two-fold blasphemy. Throughout the day, as this news was rolling out, chatter filled the newsrooms and offices on the topic. Many people had many different opinions, “She had it coming to her” some people said, while others called it an unfortunate demise.

Throughout the day, as this news was rolling out, chatter filled the newsrooms and offices on the topic. Many people had many different opinions, “She had it coming to her” some people said, while others called it an unfortunate demise.

The huge variance along the timeline of opinion represents a very clear picture on the current moral grounding of society. There is a very clear difference of understanding in what constitutes right and wrong for a particular issue for different people and the difference is as sharp as a knife. Any society that stands sharply divided across an issue represents a general disunity across schools of thoughts and perception towards life. Such and incident is a boiling point for further divides on future issues.

The whole spectacle and the sad ending that wrapped it up represents the intersection of major social problems and the new found strength that is provided by the social media. Why is social media the ideal trampoline to fame? It is a free and unbiased platform that provides access to a huge base of prospective fans and the ability to directly interact with them. Qandeel, had managed to utilize the platform to a huge advantage and garnered a very large following very quickly. She had discovered the answer on how to grow viral; by creating controversy. This controversy fueled a huge following for her , the large majority of which were not true fans but rather people spamming her page with hate messages. Qandeel, then discovered the second step in the ladder that came regardless of the hundreds of thousands of followers beings fans or foes. This feature comes with the possession of a huge following. She could now be of assistance to marketing campaigns by modeling for them or recommending their product, anything she would do would get watched by a large majority of people. With the fame comes the money and reaching this point is the target of the large majority of social media celebrities. If her story was witnessed from that particular perspective then it would make sense to call her very successful in what she did.

Today, a large majority is out condemning her and in their own twisted sense of morality, justifying the killing of another human being. To those people, an analysis of her life may posit an understanding of why she did what she did. But first of all it is important to understand that it is people, society, us that encouraged her behavior. Our society has still not learnt the basic decency of leaving people alone and this feature of us is usually utilized to gather attention by different elements at different times. Qandeel fell victim to her popularity among people, since she opened her life to public scrutiny to a people who feel it is their birthright to criticize each and everything around them before looking under their own shirt. Observing her life retrospectively would garner some insight on what she had gone through before becoming what she was.

Pre-Pakistan idol

Qandeel Baloch was supposedly married to a man called Ashiq Husain. Not much is known about him but from what can be observed it appears that she came from a very humble background and was probably settled in a remote village of Pakistan, atleast her husband hailed from such a region. When these reports came out first via various news outlets, Qandeel embraced the revelations further adding that she also had a son with the man whose custody she had to give away to him. Her ex-husband, gleefully aiming to take a nip out of the popularity she had worked her way towards had come forward with the claims. Qandeel could have denied the assertion but didn’t. She went on to state that the marriage was forced and related stories on how her husband would torture. Since her popularity piqued around the time period of 3 years and this particular event was prior to that it can be safely deduced that Qandeel was quite young when her marriage had taken place. She later on told media that she was 17 at the time of her marriage which ran on for a year until she ran away with her son since her husband would torture her day and night, the model stated that she sought refuge at a DarulAman which is the urdu word for a woman’s shelter. She claimed that she would fight for the custody of her son. Her marital life certainly had an impact on her. The pressing social issues of the segment of society from which she hailed left a mark on her and she would reference to those particular events later on during multiple postings on her Facebook page. Every girl is promised a very happy life after her marriage and this is how it should be so, but in Pakistan this is not the case as marriage can turn from a happy dream to a terrible nightmare within a matter of days for many people; not to say this does not happen in other countries across the globe. The difference only lies in the fact that in most developed nations and even some developing nations there are laws to protect women against this sort of mistreatment. Qandeel did not have access to such laws and a poor woman with nowhere to go realized the great need in her life for quick money. Maybe somewhere along this timeline, someone would have given her the advice to pursue a career in modeling and maybe, it was around this time that she would have discovered Facebook.

Small beginnings at Pakistan Idol

QB-article-imageQandeel Baloch’s real name was Fauzia Azeem. She had adopted this stage name prior to making her first appearance on television since this is the name she introduced herself with when she first stepped foot onto the audition stage of Pakistan idol. Her appearance was unique as she used a lot of the color pink. She would have focused on looking the best she could, in the context of what she understood it to be. Like every other contending participant she had seen dreams of becoming a famous singer but was not successful in being selected by the judges. The judges took the appearance of her and used the uncanny color choice to make as much fun of her as she could. Now recount what had happened till now. A small town girl from a rural area, who had been tortured by her husband day and night for one year, losing her son goes out to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. She dons her best clothes and gets the best makeup done (in as much she knew what the best makeup was) only to get mocked and made fun of. The judges must have made the human mistake of equating someone’s social standing and fashion choices with how much money they have. Qandeel did not come from a privileged background which enabled her to look like what she did, she instead had a very sad backstory which wasn’t evident in what she looked like that day. She had gathered herself together and proceeded to take part in what she considered the best course of action. This particular incident received a featured spot on the show and this was only done for those participants that the producers of the show believe can get them airtime albeit in a manner which would besmirch her. The judges did not praise her, instead they went on to utilize the air time to make fun of her so that audience can have a good laugh or two. After all, who would take a small joke to heart? When Qandeel walked out of the audition room, the immediate noticeable detail is that there is no one waiting to receive her. Again, a woman who had escaped marital torture was trying to have a go at making a living in the entertainment industry was mocked and sent out of the room by the people she idolized. 

Getting famous on Facebook

One of the first videos of Qandeel to go viral involved humorous clips. The videos would get shared really quickly among Pakistan’s social media users and lots of people with different intentions would eventually flock to her page. The difference between her and the other social media want to be celebrities was that she would take time out to react to the comments that people made on her videos. This sparked a discussion in which Qandeel would get involved herself, fighting comments that were made in the negative about her all over her Facebook wall posts. The more the discussion progressed the more the videos that were being posted to her wall as responses and the more people would like her page. It wasn’t long before she started to comment on social issues using her page and her opinion would get shared all across the board eventually landing her much popularity and further coverage by the large news outlets of Pakistan. 

The Imran Khan marriage saga

Around the time Qandeel was commenting on social issues and on society’s events there was another person who also seemed to have a large following on social media platforms in Pakistan, although he was already a celebrity. The cricketer turned politician Imran Khan had ended his short lived marriage with Reham Khan. This caught the attention of Qandeel Baloch and she would proceed to make videos of herself in which she would often send out multiple proposals for him which usually fell on silent ears. However, all of the people present on social media were listening and videos of her would again go viral until they would once again catch the attention of large media outlets. Qandeel would then proceed to take steps such as camping outside Imran Khan’s home in Bani Gala, Islamabad, always being told that ‘Khan sahib(Pakistani term to denote a higher social standing)’ was not present. Who was always present there though? The camera men from every major outlets was there. She was now known as the girl who wanted to marry Khan, and again her antics were seen as harmless,amusing and cute to most people in the country no matter how serious her own desire may have been.

The promised video

By now, the model and aspiring singer had learnt the art of drawing as much attention to herself through methods to which most people would react. Someone whose only friend was the camera and her Facebook page and was constantly encircled by a bunch of hawks that would give her all sorts of suggestions that would make them as rich as possible through her. Many of us never share all of our thoughts and what we believe in all the time, but Qandeel did. Often, something that we believed in would be replaced by another opinion later on and we would be ashamed or embarrassed of what we believed in prior, but this girl wasn’t given any time to change. She was immediately pinned to the stake of judgement by people all over the country. The event was a cricket match between India and Pakistan. The model said she would release a video of herself stripping her clothes if the Pakistani team was to win. This particular event spiraled her fame to pour across the border and multiple Indian news outlets picked up on this news. She was now famous not only in Pakistan but also in India and she was being contacted for Interviews from across the border. Qandeel did not come up with this proposed antic herself. She scheduled it in response to the similar proposal made by the Bollywood actress Poonam Pandey for the Indian cricket team. Pakistani society is a big fan of Indian entertainment and this was possibly seen as a major achievement by her – being now well known by the Indian media would mean lots of offers from Bollywood producers. The big promise of fame and money was enough to attract anyone that did not have any and thoroughly craved it. This event also got her major airtime on Pakistani media outlets.

The Interview

Then came her famous interview on the Mubashir Luqman show, a major talk show host in Pakistan. article-imageThe Interview was marketed as much as possible. Many people wanted to know why Qandeel behaved the way she did and the good citizen and not at all view chasing Mubashir Luqman would try to talk some sense into her by acting as a fatherly figure. In the Interview was the first time Qandeel referenced to the Pakistan Idol episode. Whatever happened had broken her self esteem, and whatever was happening was as a result of it. Qandeel then appeared in multiple Interviews on the media with most of the talk show hosts asking her funny questions and broadcasting her responses to an amused public. Again, she was never seen as harmful and her opinions on major issues were taken lightly. 

The Mufti Abdul Qavi episode

PhotoAfter gaining traction prior to her Interviews, Qandeel would go on to release music videos and would land a major spot as a participant on Big Boss. Big boss was the Indian equivalent of Big brother and landing a spot on the show meant she was one step away from the final calling. Landing a spot on the show meant that she would be cast in Bollywood movies soon. Movies, that all of Pakistan and most probably Qandeel Baloch’s brother watched enthusiastically. During this time, before Qandeel was due to head off to India to take part in the show, off to her new life to the neighboring country she posted some photos of herself with Mufti Abdul Qavi. The title “Mufti” next to his name denoted that the man had completed the PhD of Madrassa or religious seminary education and was allowed to give “fatwas” or religious rulings. He was also a major member of the RUT or the “Ruet e Hilal” committee, a government organization that spots the moon in order to determine the end of the Holy month of Ramadan, the Muftis of Pakistan generally command a whole bunch of respect and following and it is generally understood that they are of very pious and moral character. However, the general understanding is a bit different from the actual opinion of society due to the common occurrences like the Mufti Abdul Qavi incident. Many religious preachers have their own interactions with actresses and models in an attempt to preach to them. Mostly, these meetings take place over dinner and the preacher’s home with his whole family and media coverage. Abdul Qavi could have done the same or have met up with her at a public outlet, but took the another route. He invited her to a hotel room, where according to him was because Qandeel wanted to learn about Islam. She snapped a bunch of pictures with him and made a short video and would post them on Facebook. Little did Qandeel know that the Mufti was not only a Mufti, he was also a major government officer and a major politician. It wasn’t long before he was suspended and thrown out of the political party he was in. His name was no besmirched as this one little meeting had cost him plenty. Qandeel was invited again for Interviews, by now she had gotten herself involved with the wrong kind of people. The Mufti openly proceeded to make death threats against her. In America, we would take these threats very seriously and the mufti could have been charged for it, but in Pakistan, a corrupt police force and judiciary make it really hard for such events to be thwarted effectively. 

The End

Qandeel was now due to travel to India, and would probably not come back anytime soon. Before proceeding to go, she traveled to her parents home in Multan. This was where her life was taken away. The brother in question claimed that she had besmirched the family name and the Mufti who was issuing open death threats was also nominated in the Police’s Investigation report. The intentions that people involved had may never be known, but once again, someone lost their life. The life and death of Qandeel Baloch represents the indifference the authorities have shown to pressing social issues, how media and society go to every length at making a spectacle out of people who need the right kind of attention and how easy it is to take someone’s life in a country burdened with an increasing number of such incidents. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum also witnesses the newfound strength  people have gained through the power of social media and how it is being used to garner support for the implementation of protection laws. People go through many phases all through their life. At different times they behave differently,and over time their understanding of the world grows and they come to regret many of the decisions they had made earlier. Qandeel was not given the benefit of this right and was judged by the sinners themselves too quickly.




One Comment
  • max
    19 July 2016 at 5:43 am
    Leave a Reply

    Pakistanis are hypocritical when it comes to sexuality.

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