A Pakistani actress who posed in the nude for an Indian magazine with the initials of Pakistan’s feared and powerful intelligence agency on her arm has triggered fury across this conservative nation.
Veena Malik’s photo on the Web site of FHM India, in advance of its publication in this month’s issue, has been lighting up social network Web sites since earlier this week.
Many here anticipate a backlash, as nationalists and Islamists regularly stage rallies against anything they deem an insult to Islam or to the national honor. India and Pakistan have fought three wars and the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) has been accused of sponsoring terrorist attacks inside India.
Malik has broken Pakistani religious and national taboos in the past. She is a target for conservative ire and a heroine to some Pakistani liberals.
Conservative cleric Maulana Abdul Qawi said on Aaj TV on Saturday that her latest venture into controversy was a “shame for all Muslims.”
However, in an interview with Pakistani Geo television broadcast on Saturday, Malik said the nude photo was published in violation of her agreement with FHM India and she was considering legal action against the magazine.
Malik acknowledged having been photographed for a “bold, but not nude shot.”
She said the editor of the magazine had promised that he would cover most of the photo with the ISI initials.
The photo was intended to poke fun at the Indian fear of Pakistani spies, she said, adding “whatever happens [in India], people say ISI is behind that.”
Magazine editor Kabeer Sharma said Malik had given full consent for the shoot and photo.
“We have all the record[s],” he said. “Veena was very excited about that ISI idea.”
Zubair Khan, a 40-year-old shopkeeper in the northwestern city of Peshawar, agreed, saying the photo had given rival India another opportunity to insult Pakistan.
“She has earned a bad name for the entire Pakistan nation,” he said.
Others questioned the authenticity of the photo.
However, Twitter commentator Umair Javed called on Pakistanis to “make copies of the picture and bury it in your backyard. This way, our grandkids will know there were some amongst us who lived free!”
Malik does most of her work in India. The entertainment sector there is booming, while Pakistan’s is moribund. Her ties to Pakistan’s archrival have landed her in controversy in the past.
During a much-publicized talk show appearance early this year, she lashed out her nemesis Abdul Qawi, who criticized her for having a scripted love affair with an Indian actor on an Indian reality show.
“What is your problem with me?” an angry Malik asked the cleric, who had accused her of insulting Islam.