Taking a shocking turn of events, the Lahore High Court (LHC) acquitted the prime suspect of the murder of model Qandeel Baloch on Monday, abolishing the life sentence awarded to him by a sessions court. The court sets free the man who killed Qandeel Baloch.
Before her death in 2016, Baloch, 26, became known for her posts that were viewed by many as suggestive and immoral.
Her brother Muhammad Waseem was arrested and later sentenced to life in prison by a trial court for strangling her. He also brazenly told the press he had no remorse for the slaying because her behavior was “intolerable”.
Waseem appealed against his 2019 murder conviction and life sentence. “He has been fully acquitted” by a court in the eastern city of Multan, his lawyer Sardar Mehboob told the AFP news agency, without giving further details.
The court order has yet to be made public. A government prosecutor confirmed the acquittal. Waseem is expected to be released later this week.
His mother had also submitted a statement in the court that she had pardoned him, he added. It was not clear whether the court considered the mother’s statement in its decision. The main amendment in laws dealing with “honor killings” in Pakistan was that no one could be set free based solely on a pardon by a family member.
Nation condemns the murderer’s release
Soon after the news went viral, many took to social media and expressed shock over the court’s ruling and condemned Waseem’s release.
At a news conference in 2016, Waseem had admitted that he strangled his 26-year-old sister due to her social media activities. Mufti Abdul Qawi, a scholar who was arrested for his alleged involvement in the murder, was later freed. The police said they could not establish a link to the murder.
Baloch had posted Facebook posts in which she spoke of trying to change “the typical orthodox mindset” of people in Pakistan. She faced frequent abuse and death threats but continued to post pictures and videos seen as provocative.
Her killing sent shockwaves across Pakistan and triggered an outpouring of grief on social media. It spurred the government to tighten laws dealing with men who would kill a close relative in the name of family honor.
Hundreds of women are killed each year in Pakistan by family members over perceived offenses to honor, including elopement, fraternization with men outside marriage, or other infractions against claimed Muslim values on female modesty.
What do you think of this story? Let us know in the comments section below.