No for­give­ness for brother who killed Pak­istani star

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL - IS­LAM­ABAD: High-pro­file case

The fa­ther of mur­dered Pak­istani so­cial me­dia star Qan­deel Baloch has vowed no for­give­ness for his son, who killed his daugh­ter on the pretext of “honor”, af­ter her death cast a global spot­light on the prac­tice. Pak­istan last week passed long-awaited leg­is­la­tion aimed at clos­ing loop­holes which al­lowed mur­der­ers like Baloch’s brother Waseem to walk free, with hun­dreds of women killed in de­fence of the fam­ily “honor” in the con­ser­va­tive coun­try each year. Rights ac­tivists, who for years called for tougher laws to tackle vi­o­lence against women, have praised the move as a step for­ward though lawyers crit­i­cized the amend­ments for not go­ing far enough.

“There is no par­don from our side,” Baloch’s fa­ther Muham­mad Azeem told AFP this week­end, call­ing for his son and the three men ac­cused with him to be pun­ished “at the ear­li­est. They should get life im­pris­on­ment or death-I will feel happy.” He and his wife, Baloch’s mother An­war Mai, said they had been un­aware of the change in the law, which came three months af­ter their daugh­ter’s death sparked re­vul­sion in Pak­istan and abroad.

Their son, Mai said, had not un­der­stood the reper­cus­sions the mur­der would have. The death of Baloch, judged by many in the coun­try as in­fa­mous for self­ies and videos that by Western stan­dards would ap­pear tame, reignited po­lar­iz­ing calls for ac­tion af­ter her brother ad­mit­ted killing her. “I am not em­bar­rassed at all over what I did,” he told me­dia at a de­fi­ant press con­fer­ence in July, call­ing his sis­ter’s be­hav­ior “in­tol­er­a­ble”.

His mother said this week­end that he had thought his par­ents would be­come the only com­plainants in the case, which un­der pre­vi­ous leg­is­la­tion would have al­lowed him to es­cape pun­ish­ment if his fam­ily had for­given him. Waseem thought he would be im­pris­oned for just “two to three months and then af­ter he will be free, he was not aware that this would be­come a high­pro­file case,” Mai told AFP. Lawyers told AFP the word­ing of the leg­is­la­tion, aimed at man­dat­ing a life sen­tence for honor killings, still leaves too much up to a judge’s dis­cre­tion.

“There is a dan­ger that it can be in­ter­preted to mean that this only ap­plies in cases when there is a dis­agree­ment over par­don of the of­fencer,” said crim­i­nal law pro­fes­sor Abira Ash­faq. “Un­for­tu­nately, the law­mak­ers have not made it an un­cat­e­gor­i­cally un­com­pound­able of­fence. They have only made the penalties heav­ier.”“If the law­mak­ers wanted to make life im­pris­on­ment com­pul­sory for honor killing, all they had to do was to state the same,” said se­nior lawyer Anees Jil­lani. In prac­tice, Ash­faq added, most such cases are set­tled by po­lice be­fore they even reach court. “We need to change the cul­ture ... It would take a few high-pro­file pros­e­cu­tions cov­ered by me­dia.” The lan­guage must also be changed, Ash­faq said. “We should call it some­thing neg­a­tive-pa­tri­ar­chal/misog­y­nist crime, rather than ‘honor’ killing, which as­so­ci­ates a pos­i­tive value with this type of crime.” — AFP

LA­HORE: This file photo taken on June 28, 2016 shows Pak­istani so­cial me­dia celebrity Qan­deel Baloch ar­riv­ing for a press con­fer­ence. — AFP

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