A society governed by the sophistic principle of might is right, can kill anyone cherished activists, artists and ambassadors of love without reasonable forethought or regret. Be it Sabeen Mahmud or Amjad Sabri, no matter how celebrated one is, if you offend the convictions of the social, financial or political monopolists holding the guns (which are usually the same, in one form or the other) your death warrant is guaranteed. But societies such as these tend to have more resilient members, it rejuvenates its own opposition and rebellion over and over, as Vladmir Lenin aptly describes “capitalists will sell us the rope, with which we will hang them.”
As the Pakistani society shall naturally re-embark on its mission to give birth to new and even more cherished preachers of harmony and love, it will also recreate the lesser revered figures who have been crushed in this struggle among polarized social forces. One such character, the sink of our frustration on social-media, was Qandeel “Fouzia” Baloch. The model shot to fame in 2014, promoting herself online through every mean and source available to her, she had become Pakistan’s online drama queen. Gathering more hatred and offence than a proper fandom, she grew ever more with each share and comment of condemnation. Qandeel, in little time, found herself at the top of a pyramid of hypocrisy. Every time she posted a new controversy, she gained more abuses and threats from honourable and “self-righteous” individuals who for some reason could not stop following her, and her viewers kept growing.
Scandalizing herself deeper by meeting up with a popular “Mufti” and member of Pakistan’s Government Ruet E Hilal Committee “on his repetitive request”, she openned a door of destruction on his career as she made public a video of their meeting. She was also expected to be part of a popular Indian reality show this year, which would have blessed her career to new heights. But with consistent death threats, she decided to celebrate Eid with her family, at her humble home in Multan, which proved to be her last visit home. She was killed in the name of honour, by her very honourable and now fugitive brother.
Judging from her home, background and her ex-husband, she seems to have been a part of a class that was the opposite of what was assumed publicly. Qandeel’s case is not just another killing for the protection of a brave family’s ghairat (honour), it is an open elaboration of how societal influence strives to restore the unfair order of the day through oppressive means. On one side Qandeel’s highly condemnable death is another drop in the sea of blood that is “honour” in our region, on the other side, she is herself an anomaly.
She claimed to have escaped from her abusive husband along with her child to a Dar ul Aman, but she did not posses the means to take care of her child at that point, and now she planned to get legal custody. On the other hand, her ex-husband claimed that she desired a house and bungalow from him, which he could not fulfill. Be it any of the cases, whether she longed for acceptance (in general or from her abusive husband) or amenities, both of the problems are as real as death for that viciously deprived part of our society which usually generates the engines of the nation. She comes off a working class background, where generally propagated ideas whether religious or political are usually manipulated to cement their financial positions. She finds herself in this grave storm, unfamiliar of the ideas of class-struggle, she realizes (subconsciously, most probably) that to survive in this society one must either have power or wealth, which are usually supplements or basis of both. As wealth is also concentrated and can be derived from fame, she takes on this seemingly easiest and one of the most treacherous paths to fulfill her need.
Now, where fame and finance can go hand in hand, they guarantee social status which is the usual, cruel standard of social acceptance. Qandeel progressed, scandalizing every inch of herself, and realizing the want of the viewers, she makes what sells. Commoditizing herslef as a public bashing product, she proves that only bad publicity is no publicity. She gets it all; fame and considerable or visible financial status but at this point, the “haters” or more appropriately the fans had made her forsake both her individuality and any desire to fit-in and be accepted by society (if there was any initially). At this point, she had openly asked for security and spoken about the death threats she was receiving, and her past had also started to follow her, coming to media headlines.
The most serious of her acts were not only that she occassionally offended the muftis, but also that she had taken a giant leap from the lower classes to the upper, not shaking the monopoly entirely but being a witness to its social hypocrisy and class bias. Needless to say, that we might have already killed Fouzia, as we made Qandeel.
My feeble thesis would be that Qandeel had stretched the fabric too far, not even thinking of playing safe, the already aggravated and dishonoured conservative social forces eliminated the anomaly, even more tragically in the form of her own brother. Until or unless, we comprehensively redefine the system, with more equal opportunities and less deprivation, we will have to keep on creating and killing Qandeel’s for this cowardly bid to conserve hypocritical injustice, in the name of honour, religion or culture.