While Noor Mukaddam tosses and turns in her grave anticipating some justice, there is silence in Qandeel Baloch’s grave. First, justice got delayed, then denied. That’s the end of Qandeel’s story as Noor fears for yet another nail in her coffin.
After seven years of trial, Qandeel’s brother and self-confessed murderer was recently acquitted after their parents forgave him for the bloody crime. They have already lost one child, the one who brought them out of abject poverty. In their old age, what more do they have to lose — wealth is also gone since the breadwinner daughter is dead. So, they perhaps gave up and thought better to see the other child live.
To make their plea stronger, Muhammad Waseem, Qandeel’s brother retracted his statement, saying that he had confessed under ‘pressure’ from the police.
It seems the courts were waiting for others’ patience to wear out, have second thoughts and forget anything about justice, so they could spare a murderer’s life. Why did our legal system pin its hope on the day the murderer would be forgiven and the noose would be spared? He had admitted to the crime, the motive and leads were there, at that point, the parents had also demanded that their damned son be hanged. Then what were the judges waiting for? What kept them from striking the hammer?
It was a case of honour killing when her younger brother decided to murder his shameless sister, who was destroying the family’s honour with her brazen dressing and foul mouth. It was a case when a woman in this country was trying to live too large a life for herself. In that moment of perhaps, fazed stupor, Qandeel’s brother had forgotten about all the wealth he had been using and spending thanks to her sister, a wealth he himself was unable and not bothered to earn.
It is not that Qandeel was a very righteous person. She was both loved and hated for her attention-catching gimmicks. But she had a life, her own, which no one had the right to violate. She was a breathing human being who lived her life by her own rules, right or wrong. In her death, she united her fans and her critics alike. For hers was a brutal death, too soon, too tragic.
She had not yet faded from memory when Noor’s story came into the picture. Not honour killing, but cold-blooded,vicious murder. The aftermath is the same: Zahir Jaffer has confessed to the murder, CCTV footage shows a record of a frantic Noor trying to escape but hunted and dragged in by Jaffer, amongst other evidence. His lawyers’ plea of insanity has been rejected by the court. Yet the case drags on.
So what are we waiting for? Another turnaround to prove Zahir Jaffer innocent?
People shrug their shoulders saying, Qandeel and Noor were sinners anyways: one’s climb to success suspected to be of objectionable means, the other being in an alleged live-in relationship. But who gave anyone the license to send them to rot in hell? What of their own far-from-righteous lives, who will account for them?
In Pakistan, honour is measured by the length of a woman’s dress. In this country, men shamelessly gawk and point their fingers at women to hang their heads in shame. In this state, everything else holds supreme above law. Then how can justice be delivered?
As Qandeel signs off, Noor waits. As Qandeel’s flame blows out, a candle of hope still burns with Noor. Hope on what ground? That one day, history will not repeat itself.