Pakistani actress Veena Malik sentenced to 26 years in jail

The Bollywood actress appeared in a television show seen as blasphemous

Published: Updated:

Pakistani starlet Veena Malik has been sentenced to 26 years in prison by an anti-terrorism court after she took part in a television show that was seen as blasphemous, according to media reports on Wednesday.

The actress appeared on Geo TV dancing with her new husband while a group of Sufi musicians sang a devotional song, AFP reported.

The broadcast set off a storm of controversy on social media, though similar routines by other channels in the past have largely gone unnoticed, the agency reported.

The blasphemy case was registered on May 26 in a police station in Gilgit by a hardline sunni cleric Himayatullah Khan, deputy chief of the anti-shia organisation Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) formerly known as Sipah-e-Sahaba.

Shakil-ur-Rahman, the owner of the television network, and the host of the show were also sentenced to 26 years in prison.
"26 years! Come on. 26 years is a lifetime...But I have faith in higher courts in Pakistan," Malik said according to Gulf News.
"I have faced highs and lows in my life. But I am sure I haven't done anything wrong."

But the order is unlikely to be implemented because the Gilgit-Baltistan region is not considered a full-fledged province by Pakistan and verdicts by its courts do not apply to the rest of the country, according to AFP.

The four people convicted were also ordered to pay a fine of 1.3 million rupees ($13,000), sell their properties and surrender their passports, according to a copy of the court order.

"The malicious acts of the proclaimed offenders ignited the sentiments of all the Muslims of the country and hurt the feelings, which cannot be taken lightly and there is need to strictly curb such tendency," the order said.

No lawyer appeared on behalf of any of the accused. However the court had arranged a state lawyer to defend them.