Royal fashion choices in Pakistan: What will Kate Middleton wear?

Lady Diana, Princess of Wales (R) and Jemima Khan, wife of then Pakistani cricketer and now Prime Minister Imran Khan, attend a variety show in Lahore. February 22, 1996. (AFP)
Updated 15 October 2019

Royal fashion choices in Pakistan: What will Kate Middleton wear?

  • The first Pakistan visit of Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton begins on Monday 
  • ‘She makes her own statement and does not follow trends,’ says Nilofer Shahid who dressed Princess Diana

ISLAMABAD: On the eve of the arrival of Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton of Britain to Pakistan for a five-day visit on Monday, some of the public’s most pressing questions involve Middleton’s wardrobe choices. 
What royals wear at home and abroad has always been of great interest around the world, with fashion enthusiasts following their sartorial approaches with keen curiosity. When the late Princess Diana visited Pakistan three times in the ’90s, her outfits were anticipated and applauded, with a mix of the national dress, shalwar kameez from the likes of Nilofer Shahid and Rizwan Beyg, and more familiar choices from western design houses.

“When royals come to visit, they want to do something Pakistani, a touch of fusion, rather than wearing something fully western. We have such a beautiful heritage that even the slightest inclusion of our aesthetic looks beautiful,” veteran Pakistani fashion designer and pioneer, Nilofer Shahid, told Arab News. 

Queen Elizabeth II during her Pakistan visit in 1961. (Photo Courtesy: Lahore City History)

In the ’90s, Shahid was requested by Diana’s friend, Jemima Goldsmith, the former wife of Prime Minister Imran Khan, to dress the princess on her visits to Pakistan, and the designer came up with classic ensembles, with the images circulated widely as some of her most iconic style moments in the region.

Princess Diana in Pakistani national dress, the shalwar kameez,  during her 1997 visit to Pakistan for the opening of Shaukat Khanum Hospital. May 22, 1997. (Reuters)

For Middleton, Shahid predicts a simpler and less embellished wardrobe and said if the duchess wears Pakistani designers, she is likely to choose pieces that reflect her personal style. 
“Her style is structured and simpler, in the sense [it is] not overly embellished. She is chic, and dresses up in a mature manner...carries herself with a lot of panache and confidence. She makes her own statement and does not follow trends,” Shahid said. 
Meanwhile, local design houses and fans are abuzz with rumors about who will get the opportunity to dress the duchess but all are mum about whether or not they have been asked to do the honors, or have pitched outfits to the royal’s stylist.

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and his wife Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to the Aga Khan Centre in London on October 2, 2019. (AFP)

Susan Kelley, editor, and founder of the popular fashion blog “What Kate Wore,” which documents the stylish inclinations of the duchess, said in a People Magazine article that she predicts Middleton will draw inspiration from the late Princess Diana’s visits to Pakistan, and go for a mix of her familiar favorites.
On her first trip to Pakistan, it is possible, Kelley said, that Middleton will wear her personal aesthetic while respecting Pakistan’s conservative approach to dress.

Princess Diana and Jemima Goldsmith at Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital. April 16, 1996. (Reuters)

“Diana wore [shalwar kameez] multiple times in Pakistan and I think she [Middleton] has on occasion looked to Diana for inspiration, while being careful not to copy her,” Kelley said, and added that since Pakistan’s textiles were an important part of the country’s identity, it could be something the royals would take into account when dressing for their tour.

Queen Elizabeth touring the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore's Walled City in 1961. (Photo Courtesy: Lahore City History)

In 2006, during the last royal visit, Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Parker wore Pakistan’s national dress while touring Pakistan.
But HRH Queen Elizabeth II forewent traditional Pakistani ensembles during her visits in 1961 and 1997 and stuck instead to her favorite silhouettes and cuts, including glamorous ball gowns and dresses, and later the iconic skirt suits she became known for. 

In signature suited brights, Queen Elizabeth II with then-President of Pakistan, Farooq Leghari, in Islamabad. October 7, 1997. (AFP)

The Queen also spoke at a banquet while in the country, and wore green and white, the colors of Pakistan’s national flag. 

In signature suited colors of Pakistan’s national flag, Queen Elizabeth II with then-President of Pakistan, Farooq Leghari, in Islamabad. October 7, 1997. (AFP)

Earlier this month, for her first official kick-off of the tour, Middleton wore an elegant and minimalistic teal dress with a green waist belt and $6 earrings by high street Pakistani designer Zeen at an event at the Aga Khan Center in London.

Pakistan accuses India of using cyberspace as weapon, says cyber policy coming soon 

Updated 16 November 2019

Pakistan accuses India of using cyberspace as weapon, says cyber policy coming soon 

  • European disinformation watchdog uncovered 265 Indian websites spreading anti-Pakistan content
  • Pakistan is one of the world’s least cyber-safe countries

ISLAMABAD: Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan’s Minister for Science and Technology, said on Saturday that India has launched a cyber war against Pakistan, days after a Europe-based watchdog cracked open a nexus of hundreds of dormant companies and 'fake media outlets' saying that it is promoting India’s diplomatic interests around the world, and kickstarting a conversation about cyber security in Pakistan.
EU DisinfoLab, a nonprofit organization that researches and tackles disinformation campaigns, said on Wednesday that it has uncovered 265 fake media outlets spread across 65 countries managed by an Indian network, with content “designed to influence the European Union and the United Nations by repeatedly criticizing Pakistan,” the organization said in a report.
“It’s a cyber war and they [Indians] are using cyberspace as a weapon,” Chaudhry told Arab News.
“Cyber security has become a major global issue,” he continued, and added Pakistan’s cyber security policy would be announced soon.
Investigating the network, the Lab traced digital prints linked to a group of Indian companies, NGOs, and think tanks, from a little-known company called the Srivastava Group.
Dubious news portals all based at the same New Delhi address and mentioned in the watchdog’s investigation included Times of Los Angeles, Times of Portugal, New Delhi Times, New York Journal American, Times of North Korea and The International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies (IINS), which is the same organization that reportedly invited 27 members of the European Parliament to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visit Kashmir, amid international attention on curbs on free speech and allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir.
On Aug. 5, New Delhi flooded Kashmir valley with troops, enforced a curfew and communications blackout, and scrapped the special legal status of the disputed region which both India and Pakistan own in part but claim in full. Since then, New Delhi has denied its part in any human rights abuses on different media outlets- many of which have turned out to be zombie websites.
Foreign Affairs expert Qamar Cheema said India wanted Pakistan to become globally isolated.
“It is India’s declared position to isolate Pakistan diplomatically and economically,” Cheema told Arab News.
“Both countries are vying to influence the domestic and international audience about their strategic and tactical narratives, but India has developed cobwebs in the virtual world. This is because of India’s IT achievements and expanding global reach,” he said.
“Pakistan is using traditional tools of diplomacy. India is using traditional tools, its web armies and data mining techniques to influence public opinions to which Pakistan may not be able to respond, lacking resources and state of the art IT infrastructure,” he continued.
The fake news websites republished contents from Russia Today and Voice of America, but the report said they also found a large number of articles related to minorities in Pakistan.
In Geneva, the investigating group found that – an online ‘newspaper’ self-professed to be ‘approaching 35 years in business’ – published and produced videos covering events and demonstrations that criticized Pakistan’s role in the Kashmir conflict.
“Media and cyber space are increasingly being used as weapons to influence events and to project national interests. India has been doing it for many years, whether it is hacking our command and control centers... or planting stories about Pakistan,” Ambassador Vice Admiral (R) Khan Hasham Bin Saddique, President of Islamabad Policy Research Institute, told Arab News.
“India’s prowess in the IT field has undermined our national security interests,” he said. “It is time that Pakistan invests in human resource and technological competence because media and cyberspace are the components of 21st century warfare.”
In April, Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications, had announced that a comprehensive cyber security policy would be introduced soon.
Domestically however, the country has placed great importance on countering and policing the spread of content and information through special cyber laws-- but these were specific to cyber-crime not cyber-security, experts say.
“We have been creating cyber crime laws but not a cyber security policy,” Ammar Jafri, former head of the Federal Investigation Agency’s National Response Center for Cyber Crime wing, told Arab News.
Jafri was instrumental in drafting Pakistan’s first cyber security policy in 2012 which is still pending approval.
“We are one of the few countries in the world without a national computer emergency response team, cyber security policy and cyber security strategy,” he said.
“There are plenty of challenges that Pakistan faces in cyberspace that need government initiatives to confront. We do not need to reinvent the wheel. The cyber security bill can be reactivated with certain amendments.”
“This is the cyber era and we need to spend on cyber weapons to counter enemies of the state on the internet,” he continued.
Pakistan is one of the least cyber-safe countries in the world according to a 2019 Comparitech study sourced from Kaspersky Lab, International Telecommunication Union, and Center for Strategic and International Studies.