In defence of Veena Malik

Published: January 30, 2011
The writer is a director at the South Asia Free Media Association, Lahore

The writer is a director at the South Asia Free Media Association, Lahore [email protected]

Pakistani film star and TV comedienne Veena Malik is in ‘trubbel’. The first sin she committed against Pakistan’s India-centric nationalism was accepting to take part in a TV programme in Mumbai. The second sin she committed was against the violent religiosity of Pakistani society: she allowed some intimate shots with a Hindu actor. This was a double whammy of national betrayal.

A TV anchor, treading the frontiers of propriety for ratings, waited till she returned to Lahore to put her together with a mullah who upbraided her for fahashi. What was implied was something deeper than just an extended make-believe serial in which characters engaged in free-wheeling relationships.

What Pakistan lost was its honour. A male Pakistani actor going through the same shenanigans with a Hindu actress would have caused us to strut with pride. Veena became Pakistan in the female mode deflowered by male Bharat. The hidden accusation was that of cross-border coitus in which Pakistan was in the female mode. The TV anchor sat back and enjoyed seeing an implied fornication punished.

There was collective eroticism in this. Another TV programme with an audience also delivered its verdict. A group of young boys and girls said, ‘she is not from us’. National honour was lost through Veena Malik. (It was not lost in a cross-border ‘real’ liaison by a famous Pakistani cricketer.) It was an act of excommunication organised by a bearded TV host. In Pakistan, excommunication is not enough. Some jihadi will complete the act of purging by despatching the victim as a burnt offering to Pakistan’s revengeful gods.

The press reporting on Veena is replete with lascivious innuendo. A woman of ill repute seduced our innocent fast bowler Muhammad Asif and sneaked against him for drugs and match-fixing to the ICC. They ignored her honesty in admitting that she loved him and overlooked his rascalities and kept spending big money in the hope of reforming him. There was more integrity in this ‘sinful woman’ than in all our priests and TV hosts put together.

She was abandoned by her profession too. The film world turned pious and swore allegiance to cinematic nationalism by condemning her. This has happened so many times it is sickening. And the media has descended to its lowest point, more a pander to voyeurism than a protector of public virtue.

In Filming the Line of Control: the Indo-Pak Relationship through the Cinematic Lens; edited by Meenakshi Bharat & Nirmal Kumar; (Routledge 2008), the thesis is: there is a sexual insult involved in getting Pakistani girls to fall in love with Hindu men. Indian films want the audiences to feel as if their nation state was a highly-sexed male taking to bed the female enemy nation state to re-enact the times when the Mongols raped the nations they conquered.

Pakistan has done a lot of TV dramas doing just that till our mujahideen turned on us and started killing our men and women instead of morally correcting rather easy Hindu women in Kashmir. What would make our TV hosts feel good would be the sight of a Pakistani-Muslim male sexually annexing an Indian-Hindu woman: a symbolic taking of Kashmir.

The pious are usually obsessed with what they think is forbidden. We have our problems with entertainment in general. That is why our constitution stays clear of the word ‘culture’ which is dangerously coextensive with that of India. Veena was brave because she crossed the line. She has more human worth than the TV hosts trying to increase their ratings at her cost.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (33)

  • patriot
    Jan 30, 2011 - 12:33AM

    The only rational analysis of a mindless media & an unthinking public!!Recommend

  • Majid
    Jan 30, 2011 - 12:38AM

    Way to go Khaled Sb…. tusi chaa gRecommend

  • Asit
    Jan 30, 2011 - 1:01AM

    The whole big boss thing has now given a big impression in India that paki women are desperate and can be easily pulled inside a kambal. Veena malik showed a lot of desparation, first she went behind Hrishant goswami, when he snubbed her she went behind Ashmit patel.Recommend

  • faraz
    Jan 30, 2011 - 2:01AM

    TV host who put her together with a mullah is son of a famous movie actor. And the bearded TV host is director infotainment at a channel! Veena’s appearance in BigBoss is a concern primarily for the educated middle class rather than madrassa students.Recommend

  • Agam
    Jan 30, 2011 - 2:37AM

    For this article alone i shall respect you for the rest of my life.Recommend

  • Suhail
    Jan 30, 2011 - 3:48AM


  • Ani
    Jan 30, 2011 - 6:41AM

    The Pakistani media should be as responsible as the author in treating Veena Malik with respect. Untrained and prejudiced journos are adding fuel to the fire that engulfs Pakistan today. There may not be a cure for the ignorant and the faithful who have a cornerstone on religion and fahashi. But the TV owners can hire genuine journalists who know how to moderate and only invite guests who present their views with respect. Responsibility will drive both civility and profitability. Recommend

  • nano
    Jan 30, 2011 - 7:45AM

    veena is a lucky charm for express news ,express news… keep her alive ;)Recommend

  • imran
    Jan 30, 2011 - 9:29AM


  • Haris Masood Zuberi
    Jan 30, 2011 - 11:20AM

    Well explained Khaled saheb.Recommend

  • Jan 30, 2011 - 1:23PM

    Thought provoking. I would like to extend your analysis and say that organised religion (not the faith that you profess in the privacy of your home or in your mosque/temple) has always been bad news for women. While the mullah was arguing with Veena, he repeatedly asked her if she would watch the same programme with her father, brother or future son – all male relatives. Underscoring the link between family/Male respect and the importance of restricting the movements of women.

    A Hindu leader on one of our private channels was explaining to hordes of his devotess (to his credit he did say that atheists were often the more honest people than the overtly religious types and he also said that all religions preach peace and mentioned Islam, Buddhism, Christianity etc etc). On the issue of domestic squabbles he said that the Kurukshetra war started because one woman (Draupadi) insulted one man (Duryodhana). Huh? I thought. IF you know your Mahabharatha, you would see the fallacy of his reasoning. It all comes down to blaming Eve for losing Paradise. Recommend

  • Imran
    Jan 30, 2011 - 2:27PM

    Well-said. However, flowery language or the use of a lexicon hardly decipherable by the common readers was not a habit of Khaled Sahab. I didn’t cease to wonder for a fraction of second why he had to take a recourse to it. It’d better be avoided when he writes the next time.Recommend

  • parvez
    Jan 30, 2011 - 2:32PM

    Khaled Ahmed writing in defence of Veena and what she stood for. Well, Veena this is about as good as it gets..Recommend

  • Jan 30, 2011 - 4:43PM

    What I don’t get is that every or any thing that remotely connects the two countries Pakistan and Indian, why does everyone blows it out of proportions that is something much bigger than it seems. Every petty thing is not about the history of Indo-Pak or the Kashmir dispute. I fail to recognize how the author has connected the issue of Veena Malik with the perception that we have of India as a confused gender. This is utter rubbish and a complete mountain out of a mole-hole !Recommend

  • Khan27
    Jan 30, 2011 - 11:41PM

    cam smell a liberal facist in the argument above…Read orya maqbool’s article for this might help ur mentality of be-ghairat brigade to emend..!! Good luck Recommend

  • Shams Zaman
    Jan 31, 2011 - 12:22AM

    It is indeed astonishing that our moral and ethical values have fallen so low that we have started defending shameless acts of film actress like Veena Malik. Are we Muslims really? Or we are just putting a label of deceit and have actually become so obsessed to the Indian western allure that we have started to worship it instead? Let leave aside religion. What Veena did was shameful and disgusting from our cultural standpoint as well. How would have Khalid Ahmed or or Veena Malik’s supporters reacted, if instead of Veena Malik any of their close relatives (mother/sister) would have behaved in the same way?
    However, I must say that according to our religious values, any male performing in the similar with an Indian or Hindu actress, would have been an equally grave offence. There is no licence to obscenity for males in Islam and if some religious scholar ignores it, then he is as no good like minded secular extremists. Recommend

  • Usman
    Jan 31, 2011 - 11:22AM

    i used to reak Khaled since couple of years back and everything is changed for me. U never disappoint. Great job.Recommend

  • Bushra Siddiqui
    Jan 31, 2011 - 11:43AM

    @hams Zaman – poses a very important question ” Are we Muslims really?” but he carefully camouflages his post by pretending that we are “indeed good Muslims.”
    If one use this scale to measure a Muslim then we can all agree we have failed miserably.
    Are we Muslims really? we have let corruption run rampantly for so long that it has become a way of life
    Are we Muslims really? we let the Talibanization of Pakistan and other violent attacks become so common that people adjust their life style with the load shedding of everyday life.
    Are we Muslims really? when small incidents are trickling into the vast array of misinformation so as to threaten the lives & livelihood of minorities that have peacefully lived here for decades.
    Indeed Veena Malik has ignited a fire of controversy that forces us to examine ourselves, we have been tolerant and even excepting of certain practices but we have no problem screaming from roof tops and television studios about the shameless acts of film actress like Veena Malik. while sub consciously we are hiding our despicable acceptance of acts far worse than anything Veena has done & using her as a scapegoat?Recommend

  • Amer Habib
    Jan 31, 2011 - 11:56AM

    fully agreed…..Recommend

  • Amer Habib
    Jan 31, 2011 - 11:57AM

    dont become judge…give your [email protected]Suhail: Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    Jan 31, 2011 - 12:30PM

    Assalam-o-Allaikum Warahmatullah.Being a true muslim believer first all the muslims men and women esp women who want to join showbiz world esp modeling and film must recite with complete references and summaries the Surah Noor and if this is not possible then only two verse numbered 30 & 31 then decide either showbiz world should be joined or not.You don’t listen to any mullah,molvi or mufti.Allah Almighty gave you wisdom,sense and knowledge.Use your these Allah Almighty’s gifted blessings and abilities because Quran and Sunnah provide us the most perfect code of conducts to lead life towards the most perfect direction for real success in the world and hereafter.And as far as Veena is concerned then she did the most shameful act by giving this statement that I am promoting Pakistani entertainment culture and she tried to show this that Pakistani entertainment culture is full of vulgarity and shamefulness.Allah Almighty as clearly defined in the doubtless Holy Quran that who’ll spread vulgarity in the society shall be entered the hell and shall be given the most worst harsh treatment on the Judgment Day.Veena showed the most greatest effrontery before the nation and I can’t understand why she is being supported on large scale by the media and showbiz world’s related personalities? Recommend

  • mushtaq soofi
    Jan 31, 2011 - 1:40PM

    someone said flowery language. i think the gentleman does not know English language.khalid ahmed is one of the few left in pakistan who knows how to use English language.he has a great analytical skill and his analysis can not be deciphered by those who have no respect for intellect.Recommend

  • asghar
    Jan 31, 2011 - 2:51PM

    Actually this entire episode shows that even after 60 years we are still unable to draw a line as so what should be the permissible limit of glamour in pakistan. Although being muslims we all know what are our limits. Major chunk of population is condemning the shameless conduct of veena which is the clear verdict from the people of Pakistan but still we are debating it as if this issue is worthwhile to discuss. We all know that what is prevailing culture in our very own film industry but this fiasco has happened in India and with them we have a history of long tensional ties.Recommend

  • Narbig Demha
    Jan 31, 2011 - 3:40PM

    @ Ahmer Ali,

    “Use your these Allah Almighty gifted blessings and abilities”, I can see your using your God gifted abilities to create double standards here.

    Firstly, you or anyone else for that matter has no right to judge on whether someone is to go to hell or not given the current situation.

    Secondly, making statements like “Being a true Muslim believer” does not give you the benefit of the doubt. If you have actually learnt something from the Qur’an or the Teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (The Hadith) you might have picked up on being a little bit more humble if anything else. Could you please also share your thoughts on Pakistani culture. It would be delightful to see such a true believer share his or her thoughts on this matter.

    To address your comment on whether Islam permits women to participate in ‘showbiz’ is a completely different argument all together. Recommend

  • Nimi Malik
    Jan 31, 2011 - 5:13PM

    Why we poke religion in every thing?? Our religion is very vast and accommodates every one!! All of us should worry about our own faith bcoz we don’t really know “are we upto the standards of other person?” Ibn-e-insha once explaining daira as aik daira tou islam ka bhi hai jis mein pehlay log dakhil hotay thay aur abh kharij hotay hain… why mulla people look for negative things… they are schizophrenic but we need fundamentalism and when u talk about culture then what is our culture?? we inherit the culture of sub-continent..all u so called mulsims Growup!! stop pinching others :-/Recommend

  • Bilal
    Jan 31, 2011 - 11:17PM

    I am not condoning the ‘tactless Veena outing’ in Big Boss, but, what astounds me is how much ‘puritanical energy’ is being spent on this issue rather then confronting the most leprous of issues that plague our country, why are people not as concerned about the condition of our public education? public health? public politics? public economy? public law? public organizations? public socialization?

    I can not for the life of me believe that someone as atomized as Veena has the potential to have us become a hangdog nation, as opposed to the systemic corruption that has blighted every sphere of human activity in our country, as opposed to the appalling venality in our political and legal institutions, as opposed to the incendiary comments being passed by self-sanctioned clerics, as opposed to the flagrant abuse of human rights being perpetrated by powerful political magnates and etc. These are the real concerns, these are the real crimes and these are very climacteric problems that should wholly captivate our attention.

    If it takes someone as marginal as Veena to have us feel ‘nationally discredited’ then I fear for the future of this country because it is indicative of how insular we have become and how willing we are to de-contextualize all of our problems.

    Veena Malik was acting in degenerate Pakistani films long before she became a national disgrace because of her stint in Big Boss, Veena Malik’s body was canvassed on bodacious movie posters long before her skimp in Big Boss, Veena Malik’s body was gyrating to the most prurient of lyrics in Pakistani films long before she became involved in a national witch hunt; For people to agree with the diatribes of Syed Noor against Veena Malik, who patrons the most lecherous and amorous of films, is revelatory of the

    Everyone says Veena Malik’s conduct belied the true face of our culture?

    But what I earnestly ask you all is, what is our true culture? what is the temporizing calculus through which we tabulate our morals? because the Veena Malik we saw in India was the same Veena Malik who was fostered, nurtured and swaddled in a wholly lascivious local film-culture.

    Veena Malik is a daughter of the soil, she is the direct outcome of a an artless film-culture, and it should surprise no one here that she was comfortable sleeping in another mans arms because she has done it countless times before in our gaudy movies.

    And, those who say that a film is a realm of fantasy and that real life is wholly different from the stratosphere of movie-dust and cinematic-illusion, I say to you that what we tend to display in our films with unfailing constancy is exactly what our minds are addicted to experiencing.Recommend

  • observer
    Feb 1, 2011 - 10:38AM

    @Shams Zaman

    How would have Khalid Ahmed or or Veena Malik’s supporters reacted, if instead of Veena Malik any of their close relatives (mother/sister) would have behaved in the same way?

    In the same way as Veen’s mother and sisters (whose education she has supported) have reacted now.
    Incidentally, which one are you, mother or sister?Recommend

  • observer
    Feb 1, 2011 - 12:10PM

    @Shams Zaman

    How would have Khalid Ahmed or or Veena Malik’s supporters reacted, if instead of Veena Malik any of their close relatives (mother/sister) would have behaved in the same way?

    In the same way in which Veena’s mother and sisters(whose education she has supported) are reacting now.
    Incidentally, which one are you?Veena’s mother or sister?Recommend

  • Zarah
    Feb 1, 2011 - 5:01PM

    Good looking women in Pakistan are worshipped by Pakistani men, so that’s why Veena Malik knew that she could cross the line. The only thing that is bothering Pakistan is jealousy, because their neighbors could enjoy her as well. Veena Malik was actually also the most jealous woman in Bigg Boss and made many fake complains against the other pretty women in the house.

    The truth is that the only way women can get power in Pakistan is by their looks and sexuality, and that’s why Veena Malik was running behind the men. She thought it was a power game and this was the way to show her power. The other women who could stand in her way, she tried to make black. She gained national attention by her actions, so her goal was reached.

    Actually Veena’s behavior was totally in line with Pakistan’s way of thinking. This woman did nothing wrong, she just did what she had learned in her life and it also got her was she was looking for. Make men bow in front of you and wipe out everyone who gets in your way. Her strategy worked, because this is the only way to gain power in Pakistan. Pakistan zindabad!Recommend

  • Feb 1, 2011 - 11:46PM

    salaam Janab ,
    can you lease mention to whom you are referring as son of TV actor and which TV host is director infotainment
    I strongly agree that Veena controversy is more concerned for all other than madrassah students .Recommend

  • sama siraj
    Feb 2, 2011 - 2:17AM

    As we see the whole picture from outside we find that media and some people are trying to give so much importance to this most stupid issue, that is a shame full act of a muslim Pakistani woman , specially in a non muslim country, where people and media is making fun of islam and our beloved muslim country …..we see that there is no taliban and muslim activist giving statements or threats to veena to stop this nonsense and telling that its all misunderstanding and void anger of people as we can see all that rubbish on youtube….wow and aftre that she ask what is her Qusur……….. Recommend

  • Shams Zaman
    Feb 10, 2011 - 1:25AM

    With regards yo Bushra: I never said we are good Muslims. I rather think we barely are. You have very rightly pointed out some of the most despicable social evils of our society. But having them in society doesn’t mean that we should start accepting or ignoring others. Despite my strong religious sentiments, I firmly and sincerely believe that in Pakistan prostitution is a much honorable profession than politics. I hope this also clears the ambiguity of dear Mr. Observer that what I meant once I said “sisters and mothers”. I really meant sisters and mothers because I know that family of a prostitute won’t bother about an act of her. Its a matter of her professional career. Recommend

  • nadir
    Feb 12, 2011 - 6:35PM

    SPOT ON Khalid sahib !!!Recommend

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