One has to question the logic of some of our television anchors gunning for Veena Malik, as they have been doing of late ever since the Pakistani actress came on the popular reality show Bigg Boss in India. Surely, we do not expect Ms Malik to don a burqa on the show? Besides, as she told an interviewer on Express News on January 21, she is an entertainer and melodrama, as well as other aspects of her behaviour for which she is now being criticised by many self-styled guardians of morality, are only to be expected. Besides, let us not lose sight of the sanctimonious hypocrisy that characterises this issue, since one can say with some certitude, that many of those who are now disapproving of her behaviour on the show and equating it with an insult for Pakistan would have regularly watched the programme. Not only that, most of these people would also have no qualms about watching Pakistani films, in which actresses certainly do not dress in conservative attire
At the risk of sounding pessimistic, the way public opinion has come out on this issue is not entirely unexpected, since much of what passes off as public discourse in this country is shaped by an overarching framework that is based mostly on intolerance and hatred for the other, along with a decades-old indoctrination through the mainstream curriculum, whereby India is demonised . Hence, since Ms Malik happened to visit India, she is deemed to have caused an insult to her country because she dressed in a manner that was unbecoming of a Pakistani woman (this conveniently ignores the fact that women in this country do sometimes dress in a similar manner) and cavorted with a Hindu man. The latter shows double standards as well, perpetuated by the patriarchal and misogynistic society that has evolved in Pakistan over the years. Had a Pakistani man gone on the show and befriended a Hindu girl, these same people would have been applauding him and his behaviour. This is based on the misguided notion that a country’s honour is somehow tied to that of its women. If there’s something this country’s good at, it’s sanctimonious hypocrisy.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2011.