Pakistani internet sensation Qandeel Baloch was at the centre of a fresh row on Wednesday after an influential cleric’s membership of a top religious body was suspended for posing for selfies with her.
Baloch took social media by storm when she posted three selfies of herself with Mufti Abdul Qavi on her Facebook page. One of the images showed Qandeel playfully posing with the Mufti signature hat on her head, while he was seen holding a cell phone to his ear. Another picture showed Qandeel posing with Qavi sitting next to her.
After the images were widely shared on social media, the religious affairs ministry suspended Qavi’s membership of the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, a key panel of clerics.
Talking to the media, Baloch said Qavi had invited her to meet him in a hotel for ‘iftar’. She said Qavi had been persuading her to meet him for quite some time and that the cleric had publicly professed his liking for her.
“The Mufti said, ‘I want to see you before the Eid moon,'” said Baloch, who also claimed the scholar had “proposed” to her during the meeting.
In response, Qavi said it was Baloch who had requested the meeting. He said Baloch had promised to fast during the entire holy month of Ramzan . She also said she wanted to meet cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.
“I am president of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s ulema wing, that is why Qandeel Baloch extended her wish to meet me as well and I called her to the hotel,” Qavi told reporters.
This wasn’t Qavi’s first run-in with a headline-grabbing Pakistani celebrity like Baloch. He had earlier developed close ties with Veena Malik after having a verbal argument with her on live television. Qavi now claims to be one of the major influences behind Malik’s reformation.
Yet, the Mufti was unable to tame the shutterbug in Baloch and stood next to the social media sensation for a number of selfies. “We sat in the lobby and broke our fasts. Later, she asked if she could take some pictures with me,” he explained.
Earlier, Baloch had caused a sensation by promising to strip for the nation, particularly cricket captain Shahid Afridi, if Pakistan won the T20 match against India in March. This made her a household name in Pakistan.
Her name cropped up at a session of the Senate Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and one lawmaker quipped Baloch should be part of the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee.
Referring to a video featuring Qavi, JUI-F senator Hafiz Hamdullah said, “If we can have Mufti Qavi in the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, I think we can have Qandeel Baloch in this team as well.”