Two members of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have made the news this week and for all the wrong reasons. Yesterday, during the Budget session in the National Assembly, PTI’s MNA Abdul Majeed Khan Niazi passed some sexist and misogynist comments against Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. By mocking Bilawal Bhutto through gender-based slurs, Mr Niazi is not just demeaning the PPP Chairman but women as well. Such sexist comments by government members are not something new. From Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing Bilawal Bhutto as ‘sahiba’ to Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed calling him ‘Billo Rani’, such sexist comments are absolutely disgusting.
Political rivalry does not mean that you attack your opponents in a derogatory way. If somebody wants to criticise their political opponents, they should be criticised for their politics and policies. Such comments are not just below the belt but should be condemned across the board. In the past, we have seen Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Asif pass sexist comments against PTI’s Shireen Mazari. We have also seen PPP’s Abdul Qadir Patel’s disgustingly personal attacks against PTI’s Murad Saeed. Such attacks are sickening, to say the least, and should not be tolerated by any political party. Unfortunately, it seems that parties do not condemn such comments in the public domain. Some say, they are privately encouraged.
Talking of attacks, on Thursday, Special Assistant to the Punjab Chief Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan slapped Qadir Mandokhel of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on the set of Express News’ programme ‘Kal Tak’ during a break. The video of the off-air brawl between Dr Firdous and Qadir Mandokhel went viral on the internet. While Firdous said that it all started because Mandokhel abused her first, the said programme’s host Javed Chaudhry clarified that it was indeed Firdous who first used abusive language for Mandokhel. Abusing your political opponents is uncalled for to begin with and then getting physical with them is going one-step ahead and cannot be condemned enough. We have seen late Naeem-ul-Haque slap PML-N’s Daniyal Aziz on air. Mr Haque also threw a glass of water on PPP’s Jamil Soomro many years ago in a talk show. This trend is nothing new but it does not mean that it should be encouraged or condoned.
We expect our public representatives to act in a responsible manner. Unfortunately, they disappoint us on several occasions. We hope that party leadership will make their members accountable for such actions rather than silently encouraging them.