Sanam Maher’s book, “The Sensational Life and Death of Qandeel Baloch” is a very well researched and informative book. I bought this book in impulse, from Lahore. Though I had little interest in Qandeel Baloch as an individual, but still I wanted to know the facts surrounding her life and death. Baloch, who shot to fame with her sultry videos was a poor village girl, who had a difficult life, moved out after a divorce and wanted to make a life for herself, doing what she knew best, singing, acting etc. In that, she wen’t a little overboard and challenged the otherwise conservative values of our society. In doing this she got instant fame and hate. As is wont to happen in such cases, she made a lot of enemies, some within her own family, which ultimately resulted in her own death at her younger brother’s hands, who actually drugged the whole family and strangulated his sister while she slept. While all this is common knowledge thanks to our pathetic media which somehow is more concerned about people’s personal lives than the actual issues affecting our society, IMHO the book covers a lot of other issues which somehow have largely remained unquestioned and unanswered.
It covers in some detail the lives of showbiz girls, their struggles and the exploitation that these girls undergo at the hands of society and the people running the show. The reader might be amazed if not pained to know all these details. Life, they say is not easy, and is in fact made more difficult by these very men and women. The book does cover the long and arduous detail of Qandeel’s tryst with Mufti Qavi, that ultimately resulted in her death.
A lonely but informative chapter on the “Digital Rights Foundation” (DRF) by the Ms Nighat gives insight in to the movement, the role of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), NR3C, and Prevention of Electronic Crimes ACT (PECA) and so many related issues. While the book itself is regarding Qandeel and her life, I found this chapter to be more enlightening, and frankly very scary. It talks about the PECA, the roles of NR3C and FIA in controlling cyber-crimes. In some detail the story of Naila Rind, the girl from Sindh University who killed herself because of black mail at the hands of a local teacher. It also tells about similar such issues rampant in a contorted society. This indeed was an eye opener. As it brings to light the roles of FIA, the shortcomings in the laws and of paucity of regional FIA offices in combating such issues, not to mention the absence of awareness among the people specially young women, regarding online harassment and black mailing. What is even more painful to hear is that, the menace is only increasing by the day. I am reminded of an incident that took place few weeks ago as I went to attend a meeting in FIA Headquarters. while I waited for my turn at the entrance gate, there came four young girls asking for procedure to file a complaint. On asking they told it was regarding “cybercrime”. Young unsuspecting women are it seems, vulnerable and are lured in to such ghastly machinations and then black mailed for money or even worse things.
Finally it talks of the Honor Killing issue and what it took to table the bill. A movie by Sharmeed Obaid Chinoy, and its screening at the PM House!
I have found this book to be very informative and well researched. It brings to light many issues present in our society, the role of media, poverty, education, awareness, honor killings, cybercrimes, laws (or the absence of), apathy, anarchy, red tape, exploitation to speak of a few. Makes a good read any day.