The past years more than 500 teachers were killed; innumerable dancers, musicians, artists, and homosexuals have been persecuted and lynched. Aftershocks of the Taliban quake continue to roll through Pakistan and have given the country an international reputation of being the most dangerous and unstable country in the world. “We are at war; there is no external enemy. The enemy is within, he is us”, said the politician Sherry Rehman recently. She is one of three Pakistani politicians opposing the blasphemy laws, and the only one still alive.
Under the covers
Against this backdrop Pakistani press, politicians, Islamic clerics and intellectuals were watching YouTube clips from Big Boss, the Indian version of Big Brother. The famously beautiful Pakistani actress, Veena Malik, was invited on the set. And this is what the audience got to see:
Veena lightly dressed. Veena flirting. Veena appearing cozy with Indian actor. Veena getting under the covers with him. Veena dancing sexy dance, showing a naked stomach while the Indian guy is watching.
Pakistani media takes to the air and show the scenes over and over again. The journalists must do their job: to show what this woman is doing to the enemy’s men. This is humiliating for Pakistan, no? It is shameless, isn’t it? Shouldn’t we prohibit Pakistani entertainers going across to India to work?
A Pakistani TV-talk show, Front Line, runs debate; starring Veena and a Muslim cleric it took only a nanosecond to recruit. He employs the righteous task of publicly humiliating the woman. She ought to be ashamed, admit her immorality, and ask her nation forgiveness and mercy!
Crystal clear sharpness
But – to everyone’s great surprise – laymen and clergymen alike, Ms. Malik answers strikes crystal clear. Veena Malik, the Big Boss Bimbo, spoke like a goddess. With glistening eyes and her hair down she spoke as if being the incarnation of a force that no patriarchy or any insults could control or hold back.
She spoke not only on behalf of herself but also for millions of offended Pakistanis, the mortified, and the murdered. She spoke with such sharpness that the sound of her words cut through the ether, out onto the Internet, hanging as an astronomic explosion in the universe. It remains hanging there, as an echo of the Pakistani children and young people, crying out for a better future.
Pakistani minorities, the transsexuals among them, were the first to embrace her, while others were bitching about her going to India in the first place. People were dancing in the streets and musicians were dedicating new songs to her, satirists wrote parodies and intellectuals came forward criticizing the Express News TV Channel for having deliberately put an artist’s life in danger by having a religious fanatic condemn her on prime time TV.
A victorious gladiator
Wrote one young Pakistani columnist: “Veena Malik was thrown into the arena for entertainment and turned out, against all expectations, a gladiator.” That is why she is so important.
This is what happened: In a society where nobody, no matter the sense or logic of their argument, dared speak back to a Muslim cleric, because their words were always the whole truth; their words were always the last words; in a society where one after another: politician, teacher, lawyer and artist, have given their lives; in this society Veena Malik answers:
“You have been looking at me, my naked arms and my dress. You are concerned with whom Veena has been making out with? Should you not be engaged in the real tragedies of our country – what your profession have been doing for years? There are Islamic clerics who rape the children they teach in their mosques, while poverty is raping our nations dignity, while thousands of women are killed for the sake of honor, while Muslims kill Muslims in the name of Islam. Why am I more important to you than all these other matters?”
The mufti has another go: “Would you watch the Big Boss and your interaction there together with your father and your brother?”
Veena cut him short: “It is precisely with such questions that Pakistani women have been controlled and violated at all times. We are not negligible dolls for you to play with. We are adult women and proud Muslims.”
The mufti appeared a prehistoric paper doll, undressed and spurious. A hypocritical bully hiding behind wholly texts of which he is the sole interpreter.
United Nations human rights chief, Navi Pillay, has commented that Pakistan is poisoned by extremism and urged the country to reform its blasphemy laws.
The Veena Malik story showed the Pakistani public that it is possible to speak one’s blunt mind, without being a polite puppet fearing the blasphemy law around Islamists. A few brave politicians do speak up. But they cannot do it without help from the press. And the press could not do it without a reality show.
Video of Veena Malik with english subtitles