Dear Ayesha Gulalai, instead of honouring our roots and culture, you have disgraced every single Pakhtun woman of Pakistan

Published: August 4, 2017
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You were muddled and disoriented over whether you should level your allegations against Imran or blame Khattak for his dishonesty.

Dear Ayesha Gulalai,

I am neither a political worker nor do I support any political party. What’s even more interesting is that I am not a fan of Imran Khan either. I am a young Pakhtun woman who has been following the Pakhtun tradition and culture since I was a little girl.

My parents have always guided me to stand up for my rights and speak up against any kind of harassment in the male-dominated society we live in. Brought up in a conservative traditional family, I have always been reminded to uphold the respect of my family and most importantly, to uphold my own izzat (respect). I’ve also been told not to compromise on it no matter what comes in my way.

Not having a brother to protect my izzat in the male chauvinist environment, I, along with my sisters, have been edified by my parents to speak up against repression and intimidation in all forms. My father allowed me to lead an independent life of a working woman and I was never barred from anything, provided it stayed within the boundaries of our Pakhtun culture.

I have always regarded you as a female political party worker from South Waziristan who has been actively playing her part in mainstream politics. Simultaneously, I have always observed your sister Maria Toorpakai Wazir, who is ranked as the top professional squash player of Pakistan.

As the news broke that you decided to leave Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on the grounds of the respect of a Pakhtun woman, trust me, I felt honoured that a Pakhtun woman of high political stature had taken a firm decision against oppression. However, after watching your press conference the other day, I had no words and logic left to defend you.

Allow me to share my views on your statements in the media, that I think demeaned the Pakhtun society, particularly our women.

At first, you should clarify the confusion, as on one hand you claim that Imran is a womaniser, while on the other you think that the chief minister (CM) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), Pervez Khattak, is dishonest and corrupt.

Secondly, putting myself in your position, I would have resigned, left the political party and stood up against the alleged harassment in 2013 only, if and when I had received inappropriate text messages from the party chairman. I believe that respect, not just for a Pakhtun woman but for any woman in Pakistan, comes before professionalism and so I would have highlighted this issue of exploitation and disdain in 2013 instead of bringing it up four years later. You are not only responsible for disrespecting Pakhtun women but are equally responsible for degrading your sister, Maria, who has come a long way to make Pakistan proud.

Thirdly, you said Imran is a ‘do number Pathan’ (fake Pathan). As far as I remember, he never called himself a Pathan as he hails from the Niazi family. After this drama, I do not see you as a genuine Pathan either, because if you talk about respect and following Pakhtun traditions, you should not have opted for politics and stayed at home if it bothered you so much.

Once you came out to join a political party, you chose to come under some moral obligations and responsibilities. If you realised that that you were not getting respect from the party’s leadership and were being harassed by its chairman back in 2013, instead of enjoying the perks and privileges of being a Member of Parliament (MP) until 2017, you should have taken up this issue immediately.

Pakhtun fathers are known for being overprotective towards their daughters. In an interview with Kashif Abbasi, you claimed that you had discussed the issue with your parents. I want to ask you, how on earth did your father allow you to stay? How come he didn’t force you to resign?

On the issue of ghairat (honour), Pakhtun men can even take up arms, so how could your father spare Imran after seeing the alleged text messages? It’s appalling that he, as a Pakhtun father, allowed you to stay in the political party, visit Bani Gala and attend party meetings even after such an incident.

After speaking to Abbasi the other day, you specifically mentioned that you wouldn’t be resigning from the National Assembly seat. By saying this, you gave the impression that you were only interested in the seat. Throughout the interview, you couldn’t answer a single question appropriately or provide proof to the anchor. You were muddled and disoriented over whether you should level your allegations against Imran or blame Khattak for his dishonesty.

My humble question is, while remaining as an MP, how can you utilise the current seat to serve the people since you are no longer a part of PTI? How can you address peoples’ problems from a forum that you have already left?

Malik Shah Muhammad Khan Wazir, an aide of Khattak, has demanded for a tribal jirga to demolish your house if your allegations against Imran are not proven to be true. As a Pakhtun woman, I strongly condemn his statement and believe that if a jirga of Pakhtun elders had been formed to resolve this issue, they would have spared you. The reason for this is because Pakhtun people respect women and demand their women to respect themselves first.

Unfortunately, today, instead of honouring your roots, tradition, culture and above all, yourself, you have embarrassed and disgraced every single Pakhtun woman of Pakistan, including your own talented sister.

Aimen Hayat Khan

Aimen Hayat Khan

The author is currently working with a peace development organization and is former Project Manager Youth Parliament Pakistan. She tweets @aimenhayatkhan (twitter.com/aimenhayatkhan)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.