Asia

Qandeel Baloch: How her murder reflects a divided country

Qandeel Baloch speaks during a press conference in Lahore (28 June 2016) Image copyright AP
Image caption Ms Baloch will be remembered for her brief rise to fame through the unregulated platform of social media

In one of her last posts on Facebook before her murder, Qandeel Baloch wrote: "No matter how many times I will be pushed down, I am a fighter, I will bounce backā€¦

"Qandeel Baloch is an inspiration to those ladies who are treated badly and dominated by society. I will keep on achieving and I know you will keep on hating. Damn, but who cares."

It was for such provocative views that Ms Baloch was loved, derided and mocked.

She instigated a debate in Pakistan on whether choosing to defy family and societal norms symbolised women's empowerment or was cheap narcissism.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption In life Ms Baloch was a divisive figure for Pakistanis

In death, too, what police suspect is an honour killing carried out by her brother reflects a deeply divided country.

On social media, some believe her brother was justified in killing her.

"A girl who decides to publish her naked pics for sake of publicity.... what her brother is sppose (sic) to do?" asked one Islamabad-based Twitter user.

It was down to an MP, Nafisa Shah, to sum up the argument for the other side, writing: "A social media star who exposed social hypocrisy is murdered by a family vigilante created by a skewed law. Condemnable."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ms Baloch genuinely feared for her life, even before she wrote an unheeded letter to the interior ministry calling for protection

But others are blaming the media too, for publicising her private and personal information such as her passport and national identity card.

When a former husband revealed she also had a child after a supposed love marriage, she claimed that it was forced on her at the age of 17, and that he used to beat her.

Ms Baloch genuinely feared for her life, even before she wrote an unheeded letter to the interior ministry calling for protection.

In an earlier interview with BBC Urdu she said "I am facing threats. But I believe that death is preordained - when you are meant to die, you will die."

In life as well as death, Qandeel Baloch's story from her childhood in a small conservative town, to a video of her "twerking" and ultimately to her murder is perhaps all too Pakistani in its contradictions and in its violence.

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