THE show is over, at least for now, and none too soon.
After four months behind bars and many court appearances, Ayyan Ali has finally been granted bail by the Lahore High Court after two previous unsuccessful petitions.
Just a day earlier, the judicial remand of Adiala jail’s most famous inmate had been extended for another two weeks — the 16th time this had happened in the case.
The young woman, one of the most recognisable faces on Pakistan’s modelling circuit, was arrested on March 14 from Islamabad’s international airport on charges of money laundering after being caught by customs officials with over half a million dollars in her luggage while boarding a flight to Dubai.
Although Ms Ali claimed that the money was legitimate proceeds from the sale of her property, the case took on a life of its own when alleged links with some prominent political personalities came to light.
The Ayyan Ali saga illustrates some of the least endearing aspects about Pakistan, and its society.
By that we do not mean the rampant criminality that is eating away at this country’s vitals; on the contrary, this 21-year-old is but a cog in the wheel of a well-oiled system in which the big fish can get away with murder until it suits the state to reel them in.
She is scarcely a candidate for Pakistan’s gallery of rogues.
However, the manner in which she was kept languishing in jail under judicial remand on suspicion of a crime for which others similarly detained would have been granted bail a long time ago is regrettable, and raises some uncomfortable questions.
Certainly the case against Ayyan Ali must be investigated, but the process must be scrupulously fair and seen as such.
There is also the matter of the salacious reporting of the story in sections of the media, which is symptomatic of the misogyny that emerges whenever an independent, and attractive, young woman is either a victim or alleged perpetrator of a crime.
Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2015