On the evening of 15th July 2016, her own brother Waseem Azeem murdered Fauzia Azeem, better known as Qandeel Baloch, in the name of honour.
Qandeel rose to fame after her Pakistan Idol auditions that left many in fits of laughter. Her video went viral, and she soon became a social media sensation. Afterwards, she started uploading videos on her social media pages regularly.
Many considered her pictures and videos controversial, but nevertheless, they were a source of entertainment for the thirsty audiences in Pakistan. This is what made her famous nationally and even internationally, and this is also what leads to her undoing.
It is true that we Pakistanis tend only to forgive people after they die. Qandeel’s murder was shocking, and many heads turned sympathetically towards her, perhaps too late. On the other hand, even after her death, her haters were far more than her supporters, and you can still see people somehow trying to justify her murder.
How do you justify murder?
Recently, a new drama serial surfaced on Urdu 1, Baaghi, which claims to portray Qandeel Baloch’s life and the events leading to her murder. Baaghi, directed by Farooq Rind, stars Saba Qamar playing Qandeel Baloch’s character. Her powerful acting makes her the correct match for the show.
Umera Ahmed wrote the screenplay for this drama, and it is one of the most watched Pakistani drama serials on Youtube. The drama has received positive praise.
Some Twitter reactions
Saba Qamar is absolutely phenomenal in #Baaghi!!! Such a brilliant actress!!! Watching a Pakistani drama after ages and loving it!
— حبہ منظور (@HibaManzoor) October 4, 2017
— farah lodhi khan (@farah_lodhi) October 1, 2017
— Rabeea (@ItsRabeea) October 1, 2017
Is Baaghi merely a biography of Qandeel, or is it a glimpse into the brutal reality of our society?
Many years ago, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy rose to fame after her documentary on the plight of women in Pakistan. Many self-proclaimed, self-righteous Pakistanis turned against her claiming that she was showing the ‘negative side’ of the country to the whole world.
To this date, instead of focusing on what these documentaries or dramas show, we are more concerned about Pakistan’s ‘image’ abroad.
How about, just for a change, we started taking strict action against these barbaric crimes against women so that there is nothing ‘negative’ left to portray?
Baaghi is not just the life of Fauzia Azeem/Qandeel Baloch. We have these Fauzia Azeems everywhere around. Baaghi deals with the most sensitive social issues in Pakistan:
Domestic abuse and the role of parents
Parents in Pakistan are bound to live by the rules of their daughters’ ‘susraals’. Notice the helplessness her parents faced when their daughters came home after getting beaten by their husbands and were instead asked to go back. Even when she told them that he had given her ‘talaaq’, it wasn’t a big deal for them. This is the story of many households in the country. We encourage women to endure the beatings, psychological and physical trauma in attempts not to let the home ‘break down’.
But the question is, what is left to break down in something that is already broken?
Domestic abuse in Pakistan is endemic. Almost all the women in Pakistan have suffered from some physical or psychological abuse at some point. We see Fauzia standing up for her rights and turning against her husband when he started abusing her. Her mother tried to convince her that those things happened everywhere and she should go back to her husband. We also see that her mother-in-law advised her husband on her first day of marriage to keep Fauzia under strict control. Fauzia, the strong headed girl, refused to accept the abuse after some time and her husband threw her out.
We see how Fauzia left her village to pursue a better life in the city. Here almost everyone exploits just for being a girl. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Workplace harassment, as real as it is, is still a taboo in Pakistan. You do not expect women to raise their voice against abusive men as they fear to lose their jobs. Fauzia is seen trying to get a decent job to support herself and pursue her dreams. She struggles on every step of the way and gets harassed and abused not only by men but by women too. The drama just shows how women in Pakistan go an extra mile just to earn a few pennies for their families all the while tolerating the worst kind of situations.
In 2010, the President of Pakistan signed “The Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act”. This was a huge step forward for the women in the country. It gave women the right to report these incidents at their workplaces, and it also protected their jobs.
Is honour killing an act of one man?
One man does not carry out honour killing; it is carried out by the whole society. Society sow and nurtures these seeds into weak minds, forcing them to commit this heinous crime.
We see how every day, Fauzia’s brother is taunted by his friends and passers-by on not taking action against her sister’s bold acts. We even see her sister-in-law telling Fauzia’s brother how she acted vulgarly and was bringing shame to her family. It is just a reflection of what happens in our society every other day. What Qandeel’s brother did was just exactly what the society expected and forced him to do.
Fauzia Azeem, or Qandeel Baloch, was a bold, strong-headed girl exploited by the society. This dramatisation of her life story shows the complicated events that lead to her adopting the new lifestyle she was hated for. The drama not only shows her life but shows the plight of many women in Pakistan.
In real life, her parents stood up for her after her murder, and they want their son hanged for her murder. Mufti Qavi was also investigated in her murder case. In the recent development, we saw that the police issued arrest warrants for him for not being cooperative in the case.
Even though the case is running at a snail’s pace, we hope to see the culprit/s behind bars. No matter what she did or didn’t do, we hope to see justice served for Qandeel Baloch.
Feature image by baaghi drama fb page