LAHORE - The first death anniversary of Fouzia Azeem, known as Qandeel Baloch the social media sensation who came to a tragic end after her brother allegedly strangled her to death, was observed on Saturday.

Thousands of women die every year in the name of honour killing in Pakistan. A bill was passed in the parliament to put such criminal acts to end but many people think there are too many loop holes in it. Qandeel’s killers have still not been punished. Police in January registered a case against the parents of Qandeel for deviating from their earlier statements against the elder brother of Qandeel in connection with her murder case. The FIR stated that one of the nominated accused, Muhammad Aslam Shaheen (the elder brother of Qandeel Baloch), handed over an envelope to his parents while saying “your demand has been fulfilled and now record your statements in our favour in court”. Her younger brother Waseem who had confessed that he had killed her later retracted from his statement. His parents are also likely to change their statements in his favour. Another suspect Zafar Khosa is absconding.

Qandeel was a small town girl who had big dreams but like young women around the world she used social media posts to achieve fame. She was called Pakistan’s ‘Kim Kardashian’ because of her sexual content videos on social media network.

She was the first female social media celebrity in Pakistan who rose to fame due to her online videos and attracted million of hits across the globe.

Qandeel first received popularity from the media in 2013 when she auditioned for Pakistan Idol. Her audition went viral and she became an Internet celebrity. Qandeel made headlines when she offered to do striptease if Pakistan won the T20 cricket world cup last year. Indian media compared her with Poonam Pandey at this point due to her controversial personality.

For Pakistanis Qandeel’s videos were provocative and even daring but her dream was to make it into the mainstream media and become popular.

There had also been a campaign on social media to ban her Facebook page, which eventually got blocked for a day or two and was later recovered by Qandeel.

After her divorce in 2007 Qandeel settled in Multan and started working as a hostess for a bus company. It was at that time Qandeel started making videos for social media.  She was the earning money for the family. She supported her family and decided to shift them to Multan.

On her first death anniversary stories of her life journey have been uploaded on a Facebook page called “Qandeel ki Kahani” and divided into six series.

In the first part of the series Qandeel’s sister said she called her Fauzia. “She changed her name to Qandeel Baloch after she joined the media. When I met her two years ago, I asked her why she had changed her name to Qandeel.

“She said that she changed her name because the people she worked with didn’t know she was a single woman working alone and that she didn’t have any support from her family. She would say that people don’t know that I am actually alone that only my parents are with me. Rests of my relatives are not with me. They don’t know that. But if she told them her name was Qandeel Baloch, they’d assume she was a Baloch girl. This would make them think twice before saying anything to her. They’d be scared of saying anything to her if they thought she belonged to the Baloch family. It was only when people found out, when the media told everyone that she isn’t a Baloch girl that she’s from a poor family. Whatever happened to my sister, first it was Mufti Qavi, and then it was the media who caused my sister’s death,” Qandeel’s sister said.

On 20th June last year Qandeel met senior cleric Mufti Abdul Qavi in a hotel room to learn more about her faith; the interaction between them brought about mayhem on social media platforms as their selfies went viral online.

She also wore Mufti’s signature hat in one of the selfies. The meeting led to the Mufti being suspended from his position on one of Pakistan’s religious committees. After that incident both Qandeel and Mufti Qavi were invited at talk shows to clarify about this issue.  Qandeel demanded security from the police but on receiving no response, had decided to move abroad with her parents after the Eidul Fitr holidays as she felt unsafe in Pakistan.

On 15 July 2016, Baloch was drugged and then strangled to death by her brother Waseem while she was asleep at her parents’ home in Multan.

Her death was reported by her father Azeem. The autopsy report confirmed that Qandeel was murdered by strangulation while she was asleep on the night of 15–16 July.  By the time her body was found she had already been dead for around fifteen and thirty-six hours. Marks on Qandeel’s body revealed that her mouth and nose were pinned shut to asphyxiate her. The murder has left many questions about the plight of women in Pakistan.