Qandeel Baloch's murder: Even India is shocked by menace of honour killings in Pakistan

The alleged murder of Pakistan's social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch has shocked both India and Pakistan.

Baloch was killed allegedly by her brother in Multan in Pakistan's Punjab province, becoming the latest victim of "honour killings" that plague the country. "She was suffocated to death by strangulation. It seems to be a case of honour killing but we are investigating it," district police chief Azhar Akram said.

This dark incident has also pointed out something quite strange. Most of the queries on the internet about Qandeel Baloch in India are originating from Jammu and Kashmir, according to Google Trends.

Screenshot taken from Google Trends.

Screenshot taken from Google Trends.

While this would be completely normal news on any other day, what makes it surprising is the fact that mobile internet services in Jammu and Kashmir remain snapped for the eighth consecutive day on Saturday, even as the situation in the region remained normal after the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on 9 July.

In fact, even cable TV services are suspended in Kashmir, according to NDTV.

So, despite the fact that internet services are restricted in violence-hit Kashmir, the most number of online searches about Qandeel Baroch are coming from that state in India.

However, it is difficult to ascertain whether most of the queries about Baloch are coming from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir because Google Trends shows the entire state in India as a single entity with the most amount of queries about Baloch, without showing a district-wise distribution of the queries.

Plague of honour killings in Pakistan

Qandeel Baloch's murder exposes the horror of honour killings in Pakistan. According to Dunya News, hundreds of women are killed each year in Pakistan in the name of 'honour'.

The report added that in 2016, over 10 women had been killed by their relatives, including husbands, fathers and brothers in Pakistan.

In June, Lahore was shocked when Zeenat Rafiq was burnt alive for marrying a man of her choice. Her mother Parveen Rafiq confessed to tying up the 18-year-old girl to a cot after which, with the help of her son, Ahmar Rafiq, she poured oil on her and set her ablaze, police said.

A few days before that, Maria Sadaqat, a 19-year-old girl, was tortured and burnt alive for refusing a marriage proposal in Murree. Before she died, she managed to give a statement to the police, testifying that five attackers had broken into her home, dragged her out to an open area, beat her and set her ablaze.

The series of incidents led 40 clerics of the Barelvi school of thought in Pakistan to issue a fatwa against honour killing, declaring it an 'un-Islamic and unpardonable sin'.

“I really feel that no woman is safe in this country, until we start making examples of people, until we start sending men who kill women to jail, unless we literally say there will be no more killing and those who dare will spend the rest of their lives behind bars,” filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy told AFP after Baloch's murder.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif in February had promised to push through anti-honour killing legislation. But no action has been taken since that promise.

“Not only does the bill need to go through but the cases of honour killings need to be expedited and we start sending people to jail,” said Obaid-Chinoy.

“Activists have screamed themselves hoarse. When will it stop?” she added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Updated Date: Jul 16, 2016 16:52:55 IST

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