Models defy Taleban

Published Date: April 10, 2010 

PESHAWAR: Days after bombers tried to storm the US consulate, models defied the 
Taleban to sashay down a catwalk in Pakistan's troubled city Peshawar, flashing 
navels and exposing shoulders. Organizers said that the private fashion show, 
arranged by a private university in the northwestern metropolis of 2.5 million, 
was intended as a stress reliever in a city that has been hard hit by bomb and 
suicide attacks.

The situation is very tense. The atmosphere is very stressful and we arranged 
this show to bring some entertainment and as an opportunity for young people to 
show their capabilities," Mohammad Yasir, an organizer said. "It was a great 
success. More people came than we expected," he said. Trussed up in glamorous 
confections of gauze and silk, western-style skirts slashed to the knee, 
towering gladiator heels and millinery, male and female models marched down the 
runway, shouldering and pouting late Wednesd

There were bare shoulders, trousers hanging from the hips and tops slashed to 
well-toned navels-a far cry from the heavy veils, baggy trousers and 
body-hiding shirts favored by the city's women in public. Strict security was 
in force for the event at Deans shopping plaza in the heavily guarded and 
upmarket garrison-controlled central area of Peshawar where Indian Bollywood 
tracks and western pop blasted out of loudspeakers.

The show took place just 15 minutes' drive from the American consulate-targeted 
Monday by Islamist militants armed with guns, grenades and suicide car bombs 
who killed five security officials. "I am really happy that the fashion show 
was successfully held in this stressful environment of Peshawar," Maheen Raza, 
a dress designer said. While some models and designers came from the relatively 
moderate capital Islamabad, others live in Peshawar, one of the most 
conservative big cities in the country where fash
ion shows are rare.

The city lies on the edge of Pakistan's tribal belt-branded by Washington a 
global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and the most dangerous place on Earth, where a 
secretive US drone war is targeting top Islamist militant commanders. The US 
consulate attack was the most audacious this year in Pakistan, where 
insecurity, particularly in the northwest, has raised concerns in the United 
States as Washington steps up the fight in Afghanistan and against Al-Qaeda.

Pakistan's Taleban claimed responsibility for the consulate attack, saying it 
was to avenge the US drone attacks and threatened further assaults on 
Americans. The United Nations announced a two-day closure of its offices in 
Peshawar, citing security fears following a US consulate attack. Around 3,200 
people have been killed in suicide and bomb attacks over the last three years 
in Pakistan, blamed on militants opposed to the US alliance. - AFP

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