Earlier on Saturday, Pakistani social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch was murdered in what is suspected to be a case of honour killing. While Twitter is abuzz with reports of her death, not many know how she charted her rise into the limelight.
Qandeel Baloch, whose real name is Fouzia Azeem, gained popularity as a social media celebrity after she uploaded suggestive selfies and videos of herself going about her daily life.
An article in Daily Pakistan suggests that before she became a star, Baloch had led an extremely difficult life. Hailing from a less developed area in Dera Ghazi Khan, called Shah Sadar Din, Baloch was one among five siblings, and the only daughter in the family.
The turning point in her life — as per a Daily Pakistan report — came when she decided to lead an independent life after being jilted by her lover on the day she was to elope with him. She began her career as a bus hostess but soon moved on to work abroad in South Africa, Middle East and Europe. Before long she decided to return to Pakistan to work on her acting skills.
In June she made headlines she met Mufti Abdul Qavi, an Islamic scholar known to have a conservative stance on women, in a hotel room for Iftar, apparently to learn more about her faith. Social media went into a tizzy when Baloch posted selfies of the meeting on Facebook, including one where she is seen wearing his topi. Following this Qandeel gave a statement to Pakistan Today that Mufti “is hopelessly in love with her". She said, “I am hoping that Mufti Qavi will formally propose to me in our next meeting.”
Mufti Qavi denied the reports, and said Baloch was “like a daughter to him”, and he had met her only in an attempt to bring her to “the right path”. However, he was dropped from his post as the head of a religious organisation after the controversy broke.
A month later she created another sensation when she promised to strip if Pakistan beat India in the ICC World Twenty20. With this she got dubbed as Pakistan's Poonam Pandey, as Pandey, a Kingfisher model, had made a similar promise the previous year for Team India. Baloch put up videos on her Facebook page with the promise to "strip dance" for the Pakistani boys if they lifted the trophy.
Baloch was a polarising figure in Pakistan, where she was admired and derided in equal measure. But her tragic end has shocked even her staunchest critics.