Pakistani model and social media sensation Qandeel Baloch has been murdered, news reports said on Saturday, 16 July. She was 25.
However, conflicting reports have emerged — such as one by Dawn — that say she may have been strangled.
Baloch — whose real name was Fouzia Azeem — had been dominating the headlines for the past week after videos of her twerking to a song were deemed objectionable. The music video was for pop singer Aryan Khan’s track ‘Ban‘.
Even as the row over her music video was heating up, a man claiming to be Baloch’s husband stepped forward, and made several allegations against the model. Aashiq Hussain claimed that Fouzia (as Baloch was then known, had taken money from him and abandoned their son in his care) and had been married previously. Baloch had responded by saying that the marriage with Hussain had been an abusive one, and that her first marriage had taken place wen she was only 17, and without her consent.
In the meantime, another man — a Peshawar-based tailor named Shahid Baloch — told Dunya News that he too had been married to Fouzia in the past, and that the marriage had taken place without her family’s permission.
After receiving threats to her life and in the midst of a personal crisis, Qandeel Baloch took off for an undisclosed location in Multan, and had said she hoped to leave Pakistan with her parents once the backlash quieted down.
Threats to her life
Baloch was seen as a divisive personality in Pakistan — where she was seen by some as bold, liberated, fearless and as vulgar, attention-seeking by others.
When she posted selfies with a leading cleric, he was dropped from his post as the head of a religious organisation.
When leaders in Pakistan declared that Valentine’s Day was against Pakistani culture and warned against its celebration — she donned a red dress and posted a V-Day message for her social media followers.
In March this year, she shot to international attention when she claimed that she would strip if Pakistan won the match against team India at the T20 World Cup — prompting many to label her “India’s Poonam Pandey”.
While Baloch had been criticised harshly on these various occasions, she believed that there was a very real threat to her life, about three weeks ago.
Dawn reports that the model wrote to the interior minister, the director general of the Federal Investigation Authority and the senior superintendent of Islamabad asking them to provide security as she was being threatened.
No one but her family knew that she was lying low in Multan.
Police said that Baloch’s brother had asked her to take down her Facebook posts and videos, and there had been friction between them on this point.