Noted Pakistani actress Veena Malik, who confronted an Islamic cleric in a live debate on Pakistani television early this year, was injured when the car she was riding in was attacked while travelling from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad to Lahore on the night of May 16, 2011.
Malik is a renowned Pakistani actress, model, social worker, and television anchor. She has played lead roles in a number of box-office hits produced in Urdu and Punjabi languages over the past decade in Lollywood, Pakistan's film industry. In recent years, she has hosted television shows on Pakistani and Indian television channels, becoming a household name across Pakistan and India as well as among the south Asian diaspora community in the United States.
While initial Pakistani media reports said that Veena Malik was injured in a car crash, her publicist said that it was a deliberate attack. Her publicist Sohail Rashid said: "A speeding vehicle overtook Veena Malik's car, hit its side door and raced off. The car went off-balance and collided." "It seemed as if they deliberately hit our car. We couldn't see their faces. They hit us, and saw our car colliding. They would have stopped had they hit us by mistake," Rashid said, adding that Malik is now out of danger and her condition is stable.
In January 2011, Malik earned the ire of Islamic clerics in Pakistan and orthodox circles by confronting Pakistani cleric Mufti Abdul Qawi on a live Pakistani television program after she was accused of disgracing Pakistan and Islam for her appearance on 'Big Boss,' the Indian version of the television show 'Big Brother.' On the Pakistani program she accused Pakistani clerics of teaching a distorted version of Islam and accused the religious scholars were responsible for molesting children in Islamic seminaries (to view a video of Veena Malik's televised debate with the Pakistani cleric, see http://www.memri.org/legacy/clip/2830).
In recent years, Malik has emerged as an outspoken voice against religious extremism in Pakistani society as well as a forceful defender of women's rights in the country. She has been recognized internationally as a liberal voice by Pakistani and international media, including by newspapers in the UK, United States, and Australia. Recently, she has spoken publicly against financial corruption in cricket, the most popular sport in South Asia, and has confronted Islamic clerics during live debates on Pakistani television.
In an interview with The Herald magazine, of Pakistan's Dawn media group, Malik questioned the subjugation of women in Pakistani society, stating: "Why are only women responsible for upholding cultural norms?" The interviewer observed that Malik is now being seen in Pakistan as "a catalyst – of understanding; understanding, recognizing, and describing the demons that lurk among us today…"
Amid the controversy surrounding her debate with Mufti Qawi, Malik spoke of how life is not easy for an attractive woman in Pakistani society, stating: "First, if you are an actress, you are a fair game. Everyone feels they have a right to abuse you, call you names. And this is particularly true in Pakistan. Anyone can stand up and judge you, when they do not even know you. But if there are 10 people calling you names, at least one person should stand up and question it. Okay, you abuse me because I am in the public eye, because you think I dress a certain way or talk a certain way. But what about the ordinary woman who wears a burqa? She also gets lashed."
Malik has worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) for two years and sponsors children at the SOS Children's Village, an NGO in Pakistan. She has appeared on the reality show Big Boss 4 (the Indian version of Big Brother) and hosts television shows in Pakistan and India. Some of her movies include: Tere Pyar Mein, Yeh Dil Aap Ka Huwa, Yeh Dil Aap Ka Huwa, Pind Di Kudi, Koi Tujh Sa Kahan, Kyun Tum Se Itna Pyar Hai, Mohabbatan Sachiyan, Kabhi Pyar Na Karna, Ishq Beparwaah, etc. Some of the television shows she has hosted include: Hum Sub Umeed Se Hain, Miss Duniya, Bigg Boss 4, Bigg Toss Reality Game Show, etc.