Qandeel Baloch: Cleric who appeared in selfies investigated

Ms Baloch in pictures alongside a Muslim cleric that appeared on social media
Image caption Ms Baloch appeared alongside Mufti Abdul Qavi in images uploaded on to social media

A prominent Muslim cleric is being investigated in connection with the murder of Pakistani social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch, police say.

Ms Baloch, a controversial figure known for her outspoken posts and suggestive photos and videos, posted selfies with Mufti Abdul Qavi last month.

He was suspended from two important councils as a result.

Ms Baloch, 26, was strangled by her brother Waseem early on Saturday in their hometown of Multan.

He admitted the apparent "honour killing", saying it was justified.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Protests have been held against honour killings
Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Qandeel Baloch's funeral was held on Sunday

The cleric has denied any role in the murder but says he will appear for questioning if summoned by police.

Following the murder he said Ms Baloch's fate should serve as a lesson for others who want to mock religious figures.

He also said that he had "forgiven" her.

Police in Multan say they are also investigating Ms Baloch's other brother, Aslam, a junior army officer whom her father accused of encouraging Waseem to murder her.

'We are becoming more intolerant': Pakistani comedian Junaid Akram interviewed by Kevin Ponniah, BBC News

Image copyright Junaid Akram

A video posted on Facebook by this Pakistani comedian titled 'This one's for Qandeel Baloch' has been shared more than 11,000 times. He questions why Pakistani society has "placed its honour between the legs of a woman" and become so willing to resort to violence when confronted with something deemed objectionable.

Junaid told the BBC that while he personally did not support Ms Baloch's actions, he believes Pakistani society is too easily offended and needs to change. "Why don't we get offended by things that actually affect our lives? Why should we get offended by a girl in Lahore who decided to show a little cleavage?" he asks.

Sadly, Ms Baloch's death didn't come as a surprise given her actions, he adds - an indictment on a society where people are too willing to "play God" themselves.

The response to Junaid's video has been overwhelmingly positive, he says, but that does not erase the fact that some on social media feel her murder was justified and having been making that known.

Her father, Mohammad Azeem, said she had supported the entire family financially.

Ms Baloch, whose real name was Fouzia Azeem, divided views in conservative Pakistan, with many disapproving of her actions.

The model and self-declared "modern day feminist" faced online abuse and death threats.

Her death has sparked a debate over "honour killings" and what is acceptable behaviour online for women in Pakistan.

Qandeel Baloch in her own words

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionQandeel Baloch spoke to the BBC earlier this year

"I believe I am a modern day feminist. I believe in equality. I need not to choose what type of women should be. I don't think there is any need to label ourselves just for sake of society. I am just a women with free thoughts free mindset and I LOVE THE WAY I AM." (Facebook, 14 July)

Love me or hate me both are in my favour. If you love me I Will always be in your heart, if you hate me I'll always be in ur mind (Facebook, 3 July)

More on this story