–Judge says case regarding ‘honour killing’ would be decided after recording testimonies of all witnesses
MULTAN: A trial court on Thursday rejected a request by the parents of slain social media star Qandeel Baloch to pardon her brothers, who are accused of killing her.
Baloch’s brother Waseem had strangled her to death in the name of “honour” at their house in 2016. He later confessed to have killed her because she allegedly “brought dishonour to the Baloch name” with her risqué videos and statements posted on social media. Her brother Aslam Shaheen was also nominated in the case.
The social media celebrity’s parents, Muhammad Azeem and Anwar Bibi, had on Wednesday submitted an affidavit in the local trial court, saying they had forgiven the killers and the case against their sons should be thrown out.
They had argued that since the Anti-Honour Killing Laws (Criminal Amendment Bill), 2015 — which bars pardoning killers in such cases — was passed several months after the murder of their daughter, it could not be applied in this case. They had also denied the allegation that Baloch was killed for the sake of honour.
As the affidavit was taken up by the model court, Baloch’s parents informed District and Sessions Judge Imran Shafi that they had forgiven their sons “in the name of Allah”.
The judge asked them whether they were only pardoning their sons and not all the accused in the murder case, to which the parents responded in affirmative.
Judge Shafi informed them that he would decide their request after examining whether law grants them the right to pardon the killers or not.
“Do you realise what impact your pardon will have on the other accused in the case?” the judge went on to ask, addressing Baloch’s parents.
The court later dismissed Baloch’s parents’ application to pardon their sons, with the judge saying the case regarding murder in the name of ‘honour’ would be decided once the testimonies of all witnesses have been recorded.
The accused in the case, including cleric Mufti Abdul Qavi, were present in the hearing. After Qavi informed the court that he leads prayers in Jhang on Fridays, the court adjourned the hearing of the case until August 24, when the statements of more witnesses will be recorded.
In January 2017, the Muzaffarabad police had lodged a First Information Report under Section 213 of the Pakistan Penal Code against Baloch’s parents on the complaint of assistant sub-inspector Allah Ditta, the investigation officer, in which it was stated that Baloch’s parents recorded their statements in court on Jan 19 and a few days later, on Jan 25, they submitted an affidavit. He said they had retracted their earlier statement against their elder son Aslam and there was a likelihood that they would do so in the case of the main accused Waseem, Baloch’s younger brother, as well.
The IO further stated that he had seen Baloch’s parents receiving an envelope allegedly containing cash from Aslam Shaheen outside the court. Aslam was quoted as saying at the time: “I have fulfilled their demand. Now they should record their statement in the court in my favour.”
It merits mention here that it was Qandeel father’s Muhammad Azeem Baloch had lodged a murder case against his son Waseem, accomplices Haq Nawaz and others. An affidavit submitted by the parents in 2016 also named two of their other sons, Aslam Shaheen and Arif.
“She brought “disrepute” to the “family’s honor” with her risque videos and statements posted on social media,” Waseem had said at the time. Baloch’s other brother Aslam Shaheen was also nominated in the case.
A day earlier, Baloch’s parents announced a pardon for their sons in an affidavit submitted in court on Wednesday.
According to the affidavit, the parents said they had forgiven their sons and urged the court to acquit them. It further read Qandeel was murdered on July 16, while the change to the Anti-Honour Killing laws, which prevents killers from walking free after a pardon, was made three months later.
Model Qandeel Baloch, who shot to fame for her provocative selfies that polarised the conservative Muslim country was sexually demeaned by her detractors. But fans praised her for daring to challenge social norms by appearing in videos that by Western standards would appear tame. Her murder reignited calls for action against so-called “honour killings”, in which a victim is killed by a close relative — who could subsequently be pardoned by another family member under Pakistan law.
In October 2016, parliament passed a law aimed at removing the ability to forgive “honour” killers. But critics contend some loopholes still exist.