Pakistani actors Mehwish Hayat 20190328
File photo of Pakistani actors Mehwish Hayat Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Well, what’s wrong with honouring Pakistani actress Mehwish Hayat with the country’s highest civilian award on the occasion of Pakistan National Day?

Hell broke out on social media — and on some television channels — after the charming model, actress and singer was awarded the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (Medal of Excellence) by the President of Pakistan at a ceremony in Islamabad on March 23. She was on the list of 171 other personalities who were given various medals for their services to Pakistan in their respective fields. The Tamgha-e-Imtiaz is the fourth-highest decoration given to any civilian in Pakistan based on his or her achievements.

Mehwish was ruthlessly trolled on social media as some called her names and even alleged that she had slept her way to the medal. Though many stood by her side, the problem of jealousy, hypocrisy and double standards — a hallmark of a certain section of Pakistani society — crept its away out to belittle her.

It seems that her only ‘sin’ is being a beautiful model who walked on the ramp to glory; a talented actress who worked on six hit films during the last few years and a television star who impressed viewers with her performances in dramas. She is, no doubt, a household name who provided ‘relief’ to the Pakistan nation at a time when the country was suffering from the menace of terrorism for more than two decades.

Mewhish is not the first film actress or model who has faced such criticism from ‘sick-minded’ people who love her to see her dance on the big screen but cannot digest that she be honoured for her achievements.

Pakistani actors Mehwish Hayat and Fahad Mustafa arrive at the Gulf News office in Dubai to talk about their new movie Load Wedding on 19th August, 2018. Photo Clint Egbert/Gulf News

The same hypocrital people want to see Pakistani cinema compete with Bollywood but do not treat female actresses as ‘artistes’, choosing instead to call them names.

Famous Pakistan actress Mahira Khan faced the same judgemental issues when her picture of smoking in India went viral.

It is a typical mindset of a certain class of people in Pakistan, who suffer from double standards and hypocrisy in culture and conservative beliefs. They are sexist. We should not judge characters such as Mehwish and Mahira based on what they wear and what they do. We should spread love instead of being judgemental about women who dare to come out of their houses in our conservative society and try to actively contribute to the society — be it films or offices.

Mehwish, who started her career by walking the ramp, advertising campaigns and impressive performances in television dramas, rose to fame with her big screen blockbusters such as Punjab Nahi Jaungi and Load Wedding to name a few.

After the continuous trolling on social media for being awarded one of the country’s highest civilian awards, Mehwish finally hit back with a heart-wrenching post. Her comments are an eye opener for Pakistanis and clearly explain why some ‘sick minds’ consider women artists as a source of fulfilling their insatiable desires and nothing more. I don’t want to get into debate of how women are looked down upon by such hypocrites at the workplace in most Pakistani offices.

This is what Mehwish wrote on her post:

“Though I didn’t want to, I feel that I must address the nonsense that some people are spewing about my award. Debate all you like whether you think I deserve it or not — we live in a democracy and everyone is entitled to their opinions.

“I respect that. However, I do draw the line when my character is being questioned in the most filthy way. I never wanted to make this a gender thing but it is unfortunate that others seem to be. I’ve been called a tawaif (prostitute), ... and so many other fanciful names so often that it has stopped affecting me.

“However, to suggest that I slept my way to this award is an abhorrent slur on all the hard working women in our country. We may be part of an industry that is seen to be glamorous — but it doesn’t mean that we have forsaken our morals. What gives anybody the right to drag my name into the gutter with crude insinuations. You don’t know me! Thank you to all the supporters and also to all the haters, it has only made me stronger. The last couple weeks have been quite an eye-opener for me.”

She wrote under her post: Mehwish Hayat-Tamgha-e-Imtiaz

Earlier this week, Mehwish had also written another heart-warming post recalling her journey to fame as an actress: “An eight-year-old girl went to the PTV studios holding her mother’s hand tightly. She was totally clueless about all the hustle and bustle going on around her. But she was equally fascinated by the lights, the cameras and the way in which everybody was hard at work including her mother who was an actress.”