By Farah Jamil
The coverage of Pakistan’s top model Ayyan Ali’s arrest and her subsequent trial perhaps is the best case study of the year 2015. The case is quite clear for understanding the depth of the seriousness with which women are (man) handled by the media.
The model got arrested form Benazir International Airport when she was trying to smuggle $0.5 million (Rs 50m) to Dubai on March 14, 2015. Airport security arrested her and filed a money laundering case against her.
Perhaps it was Ayyan’s link to the showbiz which turned her into a laughing stock. Throughout the year her trial was covered like a gossip game—and each news channel competed for ratings— spicing up news packages with Bollywood songs like Wah Wah Yai Nakhra Gori ka.
Ayyan’s wardrobe and her make-up were discussed at length, the coverage of her trial remained conspicuously missing from the television screens.
A reputable news channel of Pakistan reported the trial of Ayyan Ali on its website in the following statement:
“Money laundering case model Ayyan Ali reached the special court of customs in Rawalpindi. She was wearing an objectionable fancy black dress that was looking so vulgar.”
The fact that what she wears is a matter of personal choice—was blatantly ignored.
Her personal life became prime time discussion on news channels. A popular news anchor even went on to tweet that the model was pregnant and so was gaining weight.
Following the vicious campaign which started against her on media as well as on social media, Ayyan broke her silence before the court for the first time on July 07, 2015 saying that she is facing discriminatory treatment during her trial in the currency smuggling case. She refused connection with any political leader.
On July 14, the court ordered release of the supermodel Ayyan on bail, exactly four months after she was arrested on charges of currency smuggling.
When Ayyan was invited by for an event by students at the Public Administration Department of Karachi University on August 20, 2015, the media went bonkers. Her presence at KU’s event created furor on social media.
That Ayyan was still under-trial was conveniently ignored and KU was bashed endlessly by the media. The pressure was too much and the university was forced to expel a student from the department for alleged ‘misconduct’.
On December 1 the customs court returned Ayyan’s passport. Will the super model get her name off the exit control list in order to fulfill her modeling commitments abroad or will she still remain in the limelight of media?
Yes, the Ayyan Ali’s case study became a source of rating for Pakistani media this year. Though the race for ratings remains the driving force for bad journalism in Pakistan, Ayyan’s case study could be used to rein in bad practices by deciding ratings on the basis of content.
Let’s hope 2016 becomes a giant leap towards quality journalism.
*The story is part of our ‘most discussed persons in 2015’ list.
Read no 2 here: Reham Khan, a mysterious addition in IK’s Life