A furor has erupted in south Asia involving a men’s magazine, a seemingly nude Pakistani actress and a tattoo of the initials of Pakistan’s spy agency on her arm.
The uproar follows the release of FHM India’s December issue, which features screen star Veena Malik appearing to pose naked on its cover. If that’s not shocking enough for traditional Indians and Pakistanis, images inside show her holding what looks like a grenade and bearing the tattooed letters “ISI” — the acronym for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
But the actress claims the images were doctored and her agreement with the magazine was thus violated. Somewhat bizarrely, considering the picture sprawled across the cover, Malik insisted she never even posed naked for the magazine.
“If I had posed nude for the magazine, I would be the first to admit it,” CNN reports she said. “But I didn’t agree to this and they are wrong. I did not go for this, and I am deeply shocked and depressed about what has happened.”
Malik’s lawyer, Ayaz Bilawala, told the BBC that his client will sue FHM India and has asked it to withdraw all copies from newsstands. He has sent a legal notice to the magazine seeking $1.9 million in damages. Bilawala explained that the agreement required Malik would be shown all the photographs from the shoot prior to public display. He didn’t dispute the ISI tattoo, but pointed out numerous organizations worldwide used the same acronym.
FHM India has reportedly dismissed her objections as “completely and entirely false” and said it has video evidence to show the shoot’s authenticity. The magazine’s editor told the BBC that writing “ISI” on Malik’s arm was his idea, but she was the one to propose writing it in block letters. The intention was lighthearted, editor Kabeer Sharma noted. “In India we joke about this,” he said. “If anything goes wrong… we say the ISI must be behind this.”
Maybe not so coincidentally, Malik – who stoked controversy for her “un-Islamic” behavior in India’s version of Big Brother last year – has a new reality TV show launching soon. Perhaps there’s just no such thing as bad publicity for all parties concerned.
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