Qandeel Baloch’s murder may be just another one in the long line of “honour” killings plaguing the country, but her popularity and unapologetic, outspoken personality has given this case a new dimension - out of which some good may yet come. First the state made itself a complainant in the murder case - to plug the loophole that allows killers to get clemency - and now it seeks to amend the law altogether.

According to Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of the Prime Minister, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) plans to pass the long-delayed legislation against “honour killings” within weeks, while a similar legislation over rape laws is also on the cards. This is a highly commendable step, which legal experts, women right’s activists and international watchdogs have been demanding for decades. The government, led by the Maryam Nawaz, seems to be on the right side of this debate - despite the fact that it is PML-N’s apathy that allowed previous bills passed on this subject by the Senate to lapse. If the party manages to pass these laws, it has a shot at redemption.

Despite the ruling party’s majority in the parliament, achieving this task will be no easy feat. Religious groups are bound to oppose such moves, and the toothless but influential Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has already stated its opposition to a change in Qisas and Diyat laws. Opposition may also be expected from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), which despite the jet-setting lifestyle of its leader, caters to the conservative vote bank in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

However, much more important that the passage of the law is its content. It must be remembered that since the Qisas and Diyat laws were implemented in 1990, several partial and piecemeal attempts have been made to reform the law. The latest being 2005, where the killer was disallowed from becoming the victim’s heir - and thus unable to pardon himself - but other heirs, such as the family, still could.

The laws are now being debated before a parliamentary committee, and their exact form will be unknown until they are presented on the floor of the parliament, but any half measure will be a waste of everyone’s time. The government must eliminate the possibility of clemency for honour killers, and institute mandatory minimum sentences. The same goes for rape. DNA testing must be made mandatory and strict punishment meted out to those who are guilty.

This government has the opportunity to be remembered as the one that significantly improved the prospects of women in the country - it must avail that.