Pakistan is a feudal society with warped notions of honor and self-respect. These generally center on women being kept indoors and not given any freedom. Despite this, there are movements by women in Pakistan for their rights. Unfortunately, though there is some improvement in the cities, the countryside is steeped in obscurantism. But cases like the killing of the model Qandeel Balooch by her brother shows that Pakistan has a long way to go to give equal rights to their women. The brother Waseem Azim who strangled his sister has been arrested and the Pakistan police chief Azam Akram has said the police will ask for 'maximum punishment' for the killer.
I wonder how many have read the novel "The Pakistani Bride" by Bapsi Sidhwa, a Pakistan writer who has now settled in the USA. The novel gives a graphic account of the life of women in modern Pakistan. The Pakistan state with Islam as the state #Religion and a modern penal code inherited from the British (Pakistan Penal Code) has enacted a law called the Hudood Ordinance that puts certain crimes like rape and adultery under the Sharia. Women's rights groups led by Asama Jahangir are agitating against this ordinance. In this particular case, the brother was incensed that his sister was posting her photos on social media in revealing dresses. Qandeel had come from Karachi to Multan to celebrate Eid with her family. The father of the girl who filed the FIR stated that Waseem took this extreme step at the behest of his elder brother Mohammad Aslam Shaheen. Wassem himself is unrepentant and in a press conference gave the gory details of how he strangled his sister .After the killing, Waseem ran away with two of his friends to Dera Ghazi Khan from where he was arrested by the police.
Feudalism is so deep-rooted in Pakistan that one wonders how it can be countered. There was the case of a gruesome killing in the precinct of the High Court at Lahore when a woman was stoned to death for marrying a man against the wishes of the family and the general public and police just looked on. The Pakistan prime minister called this #Crime "unacceptable," but the Pakistan government will have to do more than lip service. There is a need to make honor killing a capital offense as almost 3000 women are killed every year in honor killings. One good thing is that there are sane elements n Pakistan and though the fight for women's rights is long and arduous, yet one hopes some good will ultimately come. A small point will not be out of place - the US has been an ally of Pakistan for over 5 decades and it is incumbent on it to try and nudge Pakistan to move forward in women's rights.