The brother of Pakistani social media star Qandeel Baloch has been arrested for her murder, confessing he strangled her for “honour”.
Waseem Azeem was arrested in Dera Ghazi Khan in central Pakistan, having earlier fled the family home and murder scene, late on Saturday.
“Yes, of course I strangled her,” he told journalists in a press conference arranged by the police early on Sunday. “I have no regrets.”
He said that he acted alone and was “not embarrassed at all” because his sister’s behaviour “was completely intolerable”.
“She was on the ground floor while our parents were asleep on the rooftop,” he said. “It was around 10.45pm when I gave her a tablet … and then killed her.”
Azhar Ikram, the police chief in Multan, where Baloch was killed, said: “Wasim confessed to his crime, saying he killed his sister for honour after her recent objectionable videos, mostly posted on Facebook.”
Baloch, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, rose to fame for her provocative social media posts that saw her praised by some for breaking social taboos but condemned by conservatives.
‘Trying to change mindsets’
On her final, July 4 post to her Facebook page, which has almost 800,000 fans, she wrote: “I am trying to change the typical orthodox mindset of people who don’t wanna come out of their shells of false beliefs and old practices. “
The 26-year-old faced frequent misogynist abuse and death threats but continued to post.
Earlier this year, Baloch offered to strip if the Pakistani cricket team beat India.
She also posed for selfies with a high-profile Muslim cleric in an incident that saw him swiftly rebuked by the country’s religious affairs ministry.
Before her death Baloch spoke of worries about her safety and had appealed to the interior ministry to provide her with security for protection. No help was provided and the interior ministry has not commented on her death.
She was killed on Friday night at her family’s home near Multan. The killing sent shockwaves across Muslim Pakistan and triggered an outpouring of grief on social media for Baloch.
More than 500 people, mostly women, die in Pakistan each year in such killings, usually carried out by members of the victim’s family meting out punishment for bringing “shame” on the community.
‘Honour killings are an epidemic’
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, who won an Oscar for a film about honour-based violence, told Al Jazeera that such attacks were an “epidemic”.
“I’m very shaken up today. Activists in Pakistan have been screaming hoarse about honour killings; it is an epidemic, it takes place not only in towns, but in major cities as well.
“What are we going to do as a nation?”
Chinoy added that an anti-honour killing bill should be passed.
“It’s upon the lawmakers to punish these people. We need to start making examples of people. It appears it is very easy to kill a woman in this country – and you can walk off scot-free.”
Mufti Naeem, a conservative, vocal cleric, condemned the killing.
“Her personal life was her business, and killing someone is haram [not permissible in Islam],” he told Al Jazeera. “The brother must be punished – we cannot have any more murders in the name of honour.”
With reporting by Alia Chughtai: @aliachughtai