I initially saw the murder of Qandeel Baloch (real name Rauzia Azeem) as just that: sanctioned murder. But this case cannot be viewed in isolation. The ‘honor killings‘ cannot be reconciled to the prohibition of murder as a violation of a moral norm, something any plain reading of the Quran reveals. But Pakistan as an Islamic Republic remains a difficult choice from which to discern this matter, the nation state never agreed to a consensus regarding Islam nor can extra-judical murders like this be reconciled to governance issue like the putative insight that Pakistan lacks the rule of law. Any one whose visited Pakistan knows how Islamic its lawyerly class has become, it frankly sanctions this kind of behavior even to the detriment of the nation state itself. I say this frankly because I was particularly offended by how militant Pakistan’s lawyerly class was regarding the prosecution of Musharraf. Simply put, Pakistan’s lawyerly class is completely Islamicized.
Last year alone the Human Rights Commission on Pakistan found 1,096 cases of female Islamic sanctioned murder identical to this case. In the past three months alone major western newspapers reported the death of a 19 year old girl burned to death after refusing marriage proposal; a 16 year old suffered an identical fate after having helped a friend elope, an 18 year old murdered by her mother after marrying a groom from a different ethnic group. These atrocities are widely accepted in Pakistan and northern India.
Professionals reveal that these incidents are rooted in tribal and cultural cultic traditions of archaic origin, making them highly resistant to the claims of modernity even within Islam itself. Sharia inspired customs of qisas (retribution) and diyat (blood money) enable generations to perpetuate murder under the guise of Islam. What should not be ignored is these murders involve the participation of entire families, a conspiracy worthy of prosecution.
Outside a commanding hold on developed civil law, Pakistan’s clerical establishment is loth to encourage change.
Perhaps all we can count on are screenings of “A Girl in the River”.