A Pakistani supermodel and a murky world of fashion-politician nexus

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 06, 2015 14:07 IST

The arrest of Pakistan’s top supermodel on charges of money-laundering has exposed a nexus between the country’s fashion industry and the moneyed class, media reports said, a case which has shades of neighbouring India’s fight against black money stashed abroad.

The model, known simply as Ayyan, was arrested last month in Islamabad when she was trying to board a plane to Dubai with US $500,000 (approximately 3.2 crore in Indian rupees), allegedly given to her by political heavyweights or businessmen.

What has made the case murkier was an attempt to assassinate her father last week with the reports saying that Ayyan’s family-members were aware of her taking huge sums of money abroad, given to her by political heavyweights and top businessmen who used her services to stash cash abroad.

Like India, corruption is endemic in Pakistan and the country’s ultra-rich are suspected of hoarding crores of Pakistani rupees in banking safe havens across the world.

The BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra had rode to power last May with the promise of bringing back crores of rupees suspected to be lying in foreign banks.

The opposition Congress, however, accuses the government of failing to keep its promise.

A model case

Media reports in Pakistan said that Ayyan, 23, – now lodged at the Adiala jail in Rawalpindi – was a frequent traveller to London, Germany, Romania, Italy and France besides Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

In a highly conservative country where women’s roles are very limited, Ayyan is an exception. Starting her modelling career when she was barely 16, she became a supermodel very soon and was a regular in the ramps of Europe and Asia till her arrest.


Ayyan was arrested in Islamabad before boarding a plane to Dubai with $500,000, allegedly given to her by political heavyweights or businessmen. (Photo- @AYYANWORLD on Twitter)

However, she had not participated in the domestic fashion scene since last April, the reports said.

Also said to be pursuing a singing career, several of her videos are still found on Youtube.

The reports said quoting investigators that she named several politicians and businessmen who used to send money abroad through her.

Media reports also quoted her father as saying, "I was shot by those who own the money recovered from Ayyan."

In found guilty, she could face a jail term of up to 14 years.

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