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Pakistan: The Veenagate Controversy

Veena Malik at Lux Style Awards. Image by Arun Reginald. CC-BY-SA-3.0

When Veena Malik, an aspiring Pakistani starlet joined the cast of characters on the Indian reality show Big Boss, not many heads turned in her direction. Most did not believe that she will survive at the show beyond a couple of weeks at best. However she made it through the preliminary rounds and became a household name in India when she was finally ousted in the last round of this spectacle. Back home the hardliners were already sharpening their knives to teach her a lesson for her alleged obscene antics in the show and now she comes back to face the music. She stands outspoken and defiant though, as on a recent talk show on Express TV she was accused by Mufti Abdul Qawi (a religious scholar) of insulting Pakistan and Islam.

Ayesha at Sharp Perceptions blog lauds Veena's courage:

Kudos to Veena for standing up for herself; for giving words to the feelings of those countless people who fear to speak out in public even on real issues faced by our society.

Raza Rumi at Pak Tea House notes:

“In a nutshell, Veena Malik has challenged the middle class morality embedded in the Urdu press and, by extension, its electronic counterpart. The mere fact that a Pakistani performer is prancing around in western clothes and playing to the Indian viewers’ gallery by indulging in mock-romance with a ‘Hindu’ actor has alerted the guardians of public morality also endearingly known as the ghairat brigade. The imbecile notion of ghairat largely focuses on controlling women and regurgitating militant nationalist narratives through state and non-state actors. Anchor after anchor has prodded hostile commentary on Veena Malik and declared her short of wajib-ul-qatl. This is not too dissimilar to the public floggings of the Taliban variety.”

Sana Saleem at the Dawn blog wrote about the inequality existing in Pakistan created by the edict preachers:

“It is true, no one would have dared to speak in such a way to a man, call him names or even questioned his character or his activities on national television. Not that they should, but has anyone ever questioned Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan or the numerous others who have worked in Indian films, produced music and music videos in India?  Has anyone ever scrutinised their actions? We have never discussed if any of their videos merit Islam or our culture. Yet, we consider it our right to slander a woman and make her look like the sole custodian of the country’s ‘honour’. Those who believe such vehement reactions are justified need to rethink their definition of ‘honour and dignity’. Honour that gets disrupted because of a woman’s appearance on a reality show but remains unscathed when over a 1,000 infants – most of them girls – are killed or abandoned to die. This is nothing short of hypocrisy”

Rumaisa Mohani at her blog little things noted the rise of a different segment of Pakistan in the light of recent events:

“In Pakistan, there seems the rise of a new large segment in our society —> Semi-Liberals or they may be called Semi-extremists (Neither Rightists nor Leftists) .. They are coming out in the open media and expressing their concerns about their image of being Muslims & Pakistanis being manipulated and projected in the most unwarranted ways”.

Not all however even some amongst the moderate Pakistani blogsphere hold the same views on this:

Reebs at Spring Of Autumn blog thinks that the show Big Boss should be banned in Pakistan:

“Moreover, Indian also media played a wonderful tact to gain maximum profit by deciding to involve Pakistani celebrities in BIG BOSS 4. Veena Malik is the most conflicted and a disliked personality of Pakistan. She knows how to stay in the media and gets everyone’s attention. In big boss 4 too, she has committed serious crimes, if judged according to the ethics and values of the culture/religion she belongs to. As she is a Pakistani contestant, the show big boss is getting very famous in Pakistan, therefore the cable TV channels and Pakistani satellite channels ARY are broadcasting all the episodes. It is a source of corrupting the young generation as well as hurting the family values. Big boss is allegedly creating bad taste in the prime time of family.“

Speak Your Mind blog not only comments on the issue but reveals a view of Veena Malik which is less than flattering:

“We have seen Veena Malik from the good old days. She is one of those faces who never got any recognition in the industry. She is spontaneous and open about her real life, surgeries, opinions, love life and anger, I feel Veena Malik is more of an attention seeker and hypocrite.”

Currently Veena Malik faces not just public criticism on her appearances on Bigg boss but has also been charged with “Immorality” in court in Lahore as reported by Frontier India & Allvoices:

“The petitioner pleaded that actress Veena Malik committed immoral and un-islamic acts during her recent performance in an Indian reality show and the same was also reported in local press”

All the views above, whether for Veena or against her, seem to further cement the fact that Pakistan now stands divided amongst its conservative and liberal forces, both vying for power and not willing to budge an inch on their views.

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