Qandeel Baloch's funeral
© AFP/SS Mizra
Funeral of social media celebrity, Qandeel Baloch.
Two brothers charged with murdering a Pakistani social media star and prompting Islamabad to tighten laws against "honor killings" might be set free - after their parents said they forgive them for killing their own sister.

Social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch, dubbed "Pakistani Kim Kardashian," was found dead in July 2016. Her brothers Waseem and Aslam were charged with her murder, apparently in a practice known as "honor killing." Now their parents are trying to get them released by telling the court that all is forgiven.

The affidavit filed by the family on Wednesday uses an old provision in Pakistani law that once allowed perpetrators of 'honor killings' to walk free if forgiven and pardoned by other family members. However, the Pakistani parliament unanimously passed a new law closing this loophole back in 2016 - prompted by Baloch's death, no less.

Current law says that family forgiveness could only spare those convicted of "honor killings" the death sentence, and they must spend at least 12 and a half years behind bars. However, Baloch's parents argue that she was killed three months before the new law was adopted, and that it cannot be applied retroactively.

The 26-year-old woman, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, had more than 750,000 Facebook subscribers, some 51,000 followers on Instagram, and about 43,000 Twitter followers. She rose to prominence by defending liberal views, defying local traditions and posting somewhat racy videos on social networks, including one in which she sits on the lap of a prominent Muslim cleric.

According to police, Waseem had strangled her to death and later confessed to the murder, arguing that he wanted his sister to leave the limelight and saying that her social media activities damaged the family honor he sought to redeem.

In an extremely rare move, the government also became a complainant in the case, designating it a crime against the state and blocking her family from forgiving Waseem and his brother Aslam, who was also charged with the murder. The parents, who initially vowed to never forgive the murderers, have already sought to pardon the brothers, according to Pakistani media.

The 2016 amendments aimed at stopping honor killings do not seem to have had much of an effect. Although the police in Pakistan's most populous province of Punjab said the number of such murders has fallen since the law was passed, estimates provided by various rights groups cited by Reuters show that almost 1,000 such killings take place every year.