Tight Security In Karachi For Fashion Week After Taliban Threat

As surging militant violence grabs headlines around the world, Pakistan's top designers and models this week took part in the country's first-ever fashion week.  The four-day event in the southern port city of Karachi was
tight security in karachi for fashion week after...
PTI November 09, 2009 17:23 IST

As surging militant violence grabs headlines around the world, Pakistan's top designers and models this week took part in the country's first-ever fashion week. 

The four-day event in the southern port city of Karachi was postponed twice due to security fears and amid unease at hosting such a gathering during an army offensive in the northwest.

The event is aimed at showing the world there is more to Pakistan than violence and at helping boost an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people, organisers said. 

Some women strode the catwalk in vicious spiked bracelets and body armour. Others had their heads covered, burqa-style, but with shoulders - and tattoos - exposed.

Male models wore long, Islamic robes as well as shorts and sequined T-shirts.  While the mix of couture and ready-to-wear fashions would not have been out of place in Milan or New York, many designers and models made reference to the turmoil, reflecting the contradictions and tensions coursing through this society.

Model Racheal Gill admitted it was a "little bit scary" to participate in such events.

Many of the models, designers and well-heeled fashionistas packing out the shows each night said the gathering was a symbolic blow to the Taliban and their vision of society, where women are largely confined to the house and must wear a burqa.

The head of Fashion Pakistan Week said security concerns had to be dealt with in order to take Pakistan fashion out to the world and to prevent business from grinding to a halt.

"The whole world has seen us and they have seen that there is Pakistan, it's talented, it's colourful, it's vibrant, it's creative and it's not about guns and beards," Ayesha Tammy Haq said. 

The shows are taking place in Pakistan's largest and most cosmopolitan city Karachi, in a five-star hotel just next door to the American consulate, which was bombed by Islamist militants in 2002.

While the shows resembled fashion weeks in other parts of the world, there were no foreign designers or buyers.

The organisers decided against inviting them, given the precarious security situation.

Karachi is two hours by plane from the northwest, the heartland of al-Qaida and the Taliban, and has largely been spared the violence sweeping the country over the last month. 

Textiles make up some 60 percent of Pakistan exports and are worth around $ 12 billion  a year.  The country's cotton and silks are among the finest in the world.  But the industry has failed to grow in recent years amid political unrest, violence and chronic power shortages. AP

 
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