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Meet Pakistan’s hot new internet sensation: Qandeel Baloch

Model Qandeel Baloch has become Pakistan’s latest internet sensation with her promise to strip if Pakistan defeated India in the World T20, a pledge that shocked many in this conservative country but also won her numerous fans.

world Updated: Mar 24, 2016 11:46 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Pakistani customers look at images of Qandeel Baloch in an Islamabad internet cafe.
Pakistani customers look at images of Qandeel Baloch in an Islamabad internet cafe. (AFP)

Model Qandeel Baloch has become Pakistan’s latest internet sensation with her promise to strip if Pakistan defeated India in the World T20, a pledge that shocked many in this conservative country but also won her numerous fans.

The 25-year-old even offered her approximately half a million fans on Facebook a “trailer to the full show”, only to have her page on the social network temporarily blocked following complaints from different quarters.

Earlier, Qandeel took to social networking sites to ask her fans whether they’d prefer a “strip dance” or a “nip slip” if the Pakistani team won at Eden Gardens. She also sent a message to Shahid Afridi before the big match that she was willing to give the Pakistan skipper “anything” if his team beat India.

It’s another matter that Pakistan was beaten by India but that hasn’t stopped Qandeel’s fans from obsessing about her on social media and sharing her videos thousands of times.

Qandeel’s “career” highlights comprise television appearances, where her antics brought her into the limelight more than her turns in TV shows magazine shoots.

Read: Qandeel Baloch: Pak model to strip if team win WT20 match against India

The memory of her Pakistan Idol audition lingers, says one writer, while Qandeel prides herself on being a morning show favourite, her cattiness bringing on the drama that makes ratings shoot up.

Her risqué videos on the internet have even prompted discussions on whether she is breaking any media laws. But legal expert Sara Shah says, “The only thing she is doing is spreading vulgarity, for which there is no specific procedure other than a complaint at the police station.”

Qandeel Baloch rose to fame by posting risque videos and images on social media websites, including Facebook.

There is much speculation among her fans on why she acts the way she does. One fan says he thinks she belongs to a very conservative family and therefore wants to break free, while another thinks she is the child of a powerful person from a second or third wife.

“She is all about seeking attention, which suggests a restricted family background,” says psychologist Faisal Mamsa.

Nationalist parties of Balochistan insist she is not from their province, despite her surname. “She is a fake Baloch,” says nationalist party leader Ali Muhammad Kurd. “She needs to be exposed.”

Despite the backlash, there has been a surge in Qandeel’s popularity, with her videos showing her in suggestive poses and dances now being sold on DVDs.

One writer on the website of the Dawn newspaper notes that Pakistan is witnessing a surge, albeit slight, in people pushing their sex appeal — mainstream actresses like Mehwish Hayat and Ayesha Omar, who were hitherto only pretty faces on TV, are turning on the charm in dance numbers, while male models and actors are stripping to reveal bare chests on Instagram.

But some insist that there is a method to such madness. Mathira, a controversial yogi and TV host who has also posted steamy photo shoots on Facebook, has signed contracts for two movies. Veena Malik signed on a for a major TV show during the holy month of Ramzan after her nearly nude cover shoot for FHM India, though the public outcry soon resulted in its cancellation.

For the time being, Qandeel has told her fans she is hurt by the attacks. “Aaj se no video. Get lost tharki awam (No more videos on Facebook from today. Get lost, you perverts),” she said in a message. The fans, though, are begging her to return.