Pakistan fashion week begins under shadow of Taliban

KARACHI: Pakistan’s fashion week was to kick off with an opulent opening ceremony on Wednesday Nov 4, 2009, against a backdrop of militant violence and security fears that delayed the event and kept away foreign glitterati.

Models will sashay down catwalks for four days, flaunting the latest creations by local designers in the nuclear-armed Muslim nation, where most women cover up and observe varying degrees of Islamic dress.

‘Our fashion week starts today and will continue till Saturday,’ said Tehmina Khaled, spokeswoman of Fashion Pakistan, which organises the event.

‘The situation was so painful in the country that we postponed it for three weeks,’ she told AFP, referring to a spate of deadly attacks blamed on Taliban militants in which more than 340 people died in October and November.

Extremism has plagued Pakistan for years. The latest surge in violence has been blamed on militants avenging the US killing of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud and a Pakistani offensive in the northwest.

Fashion Week organisers, however, were determined that the show must go on in Pakistan’s financial capital Karachi, where the luxury Marriott Hotel is hosting the launch under stringent security.

‘We have been maintaining strict security measures in the area but have intensified them for this event,’ police official Ahsan Zulfiqar told AFP.

The fashion event – originally scheduled for October – planned to introduce designers and models from abroad, but the fragile security situation has left organisers counting on local talent.

‘We have 32 designers from across the country who will participate in the event,’ Khaled said. ‘There is no designer or model coming from abroad due to security reasons.’

Karachi is the cosmopolitan hub of Pakistan, complete with glitzy shopping malls and a thriving cafe culture. But it has not escaped the shadow of Taliban violence, militant cells are believed to operate in the city of 14 million, where the profits from crime and kidnappings allegedly bankroll the insurgency in the northwest.–AFP.

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