Pakistan’s traditional cultural capital of Lahore received a much-needed dose of glamour this week as it played host to the country’s second-ever fashion week.
Amid a backdrop of tight security including armed guards, police and airport-style scanning, dozens of models took to the catwalk to showcase the works of Pakistan’s top 32 designers at the city’s Royal Palm Golf and Country Club.
Over the past year or so, several cultural events, including the annual World Performing Arts festival, have been canceled after receiving bomb threats from vigilante groups sympathetic to the Taliban. Last April, the Sri Lankan cricket team fled the country after coming under machine-gun and bazooka fire from terrorists in an attack that left eight dead.
“We’re here to make sure the mullahs don’t make plans to attack you,” a policeman told the Monitor wryly.
Models sashayed down the aisle with bare arms and, in some cases, legs (at least to mid-thigh level), in stark contrast to the modest Islamic dress worn by most women in the country. As they posed for the cameras and completed their pirouettes, the enthusiastic and fashion-starved audiences responded with roars of approval….
Kiran Malik, a British-Asian model who is also due to appear in London fashion week later this month, shared a similar view. “Security is a major concern and my boss asked me, ‘Are you mad? Aren’t their bombs going off all the time there?’ But we really needed this. People talk about Talibanization but fashion is important and it’s playing a big part in bringing change.”…
These Muslim women are asking for change – in this case to be allowed to show their beauty, including their hair and skin, not to be encased in burkhas, chadors, niqabs or any other oppressive form of dress. What they want is freedom, and we need to help them.