Posted on: 04/04/2015

All eyes on Ayyan Ali as Pakistan"s top model swap

All eyes on Ayyan Ali as Pakistan"s top model swaps catwalk for court ordeal In past years, Ayyan Ali was deployed as one of the catwalk "showstoppers" at Fashion Pakistan Week, an annual three-day extravaganza that returned this week to a five-star hotel in Karachi. But the last time the countrys most famous model was seen in public she was wearing an uncharacteristic black burqa as she shuffled into a court far from the gathering of her fellow fashionistas. As one of the industrys best-known faces, the 21-year-old has appeared in adverts for everything from ice cream to mobile phones. For the past two and a half weeks, however, Ali has been languishing in jail on money-laundering charges. "People have been talking about nothing else," said Frieha Altaf, a former model turned public relations supremo. "Some are unkind because they are jealous � everyone bitches about the beautiful people." Industry gossip has focused on what Ali was doing in the VIP departure lounge of Islamabads airport on 14 March with more than half a million dollars in her carry-on bag. Caught by airport authorities, she was charged with attempting to illegally take more than the $10,000 cash limit out of the country. Ever since, she has been in Adiala, the central prison of the garrison city of Rawalpindi, where officials deny local press speculation that she is receiving special privileges. Private cells and extra comforts are made available only to government officials and "the highly educated", said one officer. Ayyan has been denied bail, to the outrage of her lawyer, Sardar Ishaq. "All agencies have interrogated her and she is no more required for any purpose whatsoever," Ishaq said. "She is living with ordinary criminals � ladies involved in murder cases. It will ruin her life." Many in the fashion world fear she was manipulated. "My first reaction was there goes one more girl," said Maheen Khan, the grande dame of Pakistans fashion industry. "A lot of these girls come from very protected families and can be very naive. I think of her as a victim."