The State has finally inserted itself into the furore surrounding the Qandeel Baloch murder – and it must be said, in the best way possible. The First Information Report (FIR) registered against Qandeel’s brother was transformed into a non-compoundable FIR on Monday, making it impossible for her family to pardon the killers. It didn’t comment on her “character”, it didn’t cater to controversy by eulogising her, but it quietly made sure that her murderer has no way of escaping justice.

Although Qandeel’s distraught father, who held the right to forgive the killer (Qisas) or demand financial compensation in lieu of punishment (Diyat), had stated no intention of doing so, the state was still correct to intervene. By becoming a party, the state has removed the undue pressure from the father to ‘settle’ the case. As the investigation in Mufti Qavi’s role in the murder suggests, there are powerful forces at play here, which might have instigated her brother, and which can come after Qandeel’s family next. The state’s intervention protects them, and the sanctity of the trial.

While the state must be applauded for this action, one must also enquire why does the state not make itself a party in all cases of honour killings. Isn’t all murder a crime against the state? Furthermore, the reasons for becoming a party in this case are identical to every other case of honour killing; undue pressure, family members being prime suspects, and a nefarious religious body waiting in the wings. What separates Qandeel’s case from the girl burned by her mother in Lahore – her fame, the level of societal outrage? The answer is: nothing at all. Both cases are factually and principally the same, and if the state feels the necessity to intervene in Qandeel’s case to prevent injustice, it should also do so in every other honour killing case around the country. Why doesn’t it go one step further and reform the Qisas and Diyat laws that allow for murderers to be forgiven. It has been a clearly demonstrated fact that rich and influential individuals force the heirs of the victim to forgive them – often through threats of violence. As is the fact that this law creates the perverse situation that the family that kills the victim, becomes the heir and then forgives itself.

Repealing this law would not only make the justice system fair for everybody – from international “spies” like Raymond Davis, to Sindhi “Waderas” – it would also remove the need for specialised honour killing laws – which essentially seek to do the same thing.

It is an odd justice system where the rich can literally pay their way out of a murder conviction – it is time we fix that.