Can someone please stop Sheikh Rasheed from talking?

Published: June 24, 2018
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Sheikh should learn how to respect people and particularly women – whether that be a famous anchor or a prostitute. PHOTO: AGENCIES/FILE

Can somebody stop Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad from spluttering venom, please? I am sure ‘somebody’ could positively do that! While social media is rife with news of Reham Khan’s book launching around elections time, there is a social media battle of verbal abuses going on between Reham and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders and followers  – the latter accusing her of their leader’s character assassination, who is at the moment focused on elections to become the next prime minister of Pakistan.

After celebrity-turned-analyst Hamza Ali Abbasi claimed that Reham was being backed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Sheikh thought it was the right time to jump into the muddle. Certainly an “open and upfront” soul like him was expected to say some nasty things on the issue.

In a recent interview with a local TV channel, the politician dubbed Reham to be worse than the prostitutes who once lived in Lal Haveli (ironically where Sheikh Sahab himself lives today). He was of the view that a pious woman would have some respect even for a man who has been her husband for an hour. Additionally, giving example of the film industry he said, even ‘kanjars’ (transgenders) have some principles and Reham is even worse than them.

These statements sparked anger over social media and some of the leading actresses of the film industry like Armeena Khan took to Twitter, asking how Sheikh was allowed to use such filth against the film industry and more importantly why was his statement even allowed to be aired on a local TV channel? She also criticised Sheikh for holding the position of Information Minister in the past and considered people like him to be playing the main part in destroying the local film industry.

The tittle tattle around this issue has already set the tones of an election campaign that is based on verbal abuses and name-calling. Coming out of a veteran politician’s mouth – who is also a popular public figure – this statement is nothing but an indication of what we are about to witness in the days to come.

This has not been the first time that we are hearing such abuses, as Sheikh and other senior politicians have already been playing their respective roles in degrading and defaming female colleagues and insulting females, males and the transgender community in one way or the other.

The first female prime minister of Pakistan and a veteran politician, Benazir Bhutto was once subjected to these kinds of abuses and derogatory remarks. The same Sheikh slated Benazir’s government and incited the masses in a public speech to kick her out of Islamabad:

Jootiya maar ke nikalein ge Islamabad se is ko.” 

(We will kick her out of Islamabad.)

Benazir was also challenged for being a woman at almost every point. After giving birth to her children in the 90s, she was ridiculed and even her supporters joked that the acronym for Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) stood for ‘Permanently Pregnant Prime Minister’. Similarly, her opponents criticised her character, the way she dressed and her liberal way of spending her university days (which was completely her personal choice and no one else’s). These abuses and the practise of intimidating women is still predominant today.

Khawaja Asif, a senior leader of PML-N who served as the defence minister and foreign minister called Pakistan Muslim League-Quad (PML-Q) leader Begum Mehnaz Rafi a ‘penguin’. Similarly, in another incident in 2016, he targeted PTI leader Shireen Mazari and called her a ‘tractor trolley’. Some of the other male Parliamentarians supported him by suggesting that Mazari tried to make her voice more ‘feminine’.

This offensive language has also become a general practise not only on the floor of the Parliament and public rallies but also on live TV talk shows – Ijazul Haq targeting Sharmila Farooqi’s family and her character, Abid Sher Ali telling women to stay in their auqat (limits), or a right-wing cleric from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal  (JUI-F) insulting Marvi Sirmed on a live talk show.

I've just undergone a very traumatic experience at a News One program (Nadia Mirza Show) when Hafiz Hamdullah of JUIF…

Posted by Marvi Sirmed on Friday, June 10, 2016

But perhaps Sheikh has graduated in using bad language wherever and whenever he sits and talks politics, which has transformed him into a ‘bazari’ leader from an ‘awami’ leader. Criticising his opponent Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, he has frequently taunted his masculinity by calling him ‘billo rani’ and used low sentences like,

“Agey se Pervaiz aur peche se Parveen!

(Pervaiz from the front, Parveen from the back!

Sheikh should learn how to respect people and particularly women – whether that be a famous anchor or a prostitute. First of all, in a society like ours, nobody enters prostitution out of free will. As there are a number of societal issues involved in this topic, one should refrain from ridiculing the poor women who are entrapped in it. Then again, respect is mandatory for any woman – whether it be an anchor or a prostitute – because both are earning independently without any support from men like Sheikh.

The “man” Sheikh was defending has been, no doubt, an international player of cricket who brought fame and made Pakistan proud by winning the World Cup back in 1992. He is still a reputable man who has struggled hard to become an established politician. I agree he has an enormous number of fan following both within and outside the country. I also agree that he has done some tremendous work by setting up the first cancer hospital in Lahore, spreading it to various other cities, which has benefited not only the people living inside the country, but also a large number of Afghans and people from other neighbouring countries.

However, having served as a TV producer with various leading channels, I have witnessed Imran’s on and off flirtatious text messages to female anchors. These anchors chose to stay quiet because of a number of reasons: either they didn’t want to get it reported as they feared they would be blamed for attracting him in the first place or from the distress of being subjected to humiliation and disgrace by their families and society. Whatever the reason was, they chose silence and I fully respect that. However, they did make fun of Imran and his “flirtatious attitude at this age” with their respective teams.

Let us now come back to the “man” called Sheikh. I am shocked he is not aware of basic media ethics as he has remained Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting from 2002 to 2006. Further upsetting is the fact that we have time and again elected this person to the Parliament without recognising that he has no respect for women at all and certainly no respect for the fact that his private views when aired on TV, in fact, impinge on someone’s basic human rights. How could he even represent the people of Pakistan through a sacred institution like Parliament while having all of this venom in his mind and disrespect in his words?

Being open and speaking up is another thing and being big-mouthed and not respecting basic rights of people and marginalising women is another. I am also surprised that our almost defunct Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has not taken any notice of this issue. In today’s world, news spreads like wildfire and his clip of degrading prostitutes and Reham – in fact degrading women as a whole – is all over social media. This is the kind of message and image we are giving to the people outside Pakistan.

We talk of peace, sustainability of democracy, transparent elections and making a new Pakistan. Have we forgotten that when a guard kills a bus hostess for declining his proposal, it does not only depict the death of a woman? It is showing the place this society gives to women as a whole – be mine and you are respectful, reject me and you are a prostitute worthy of being dead.

It is ironic that public representatives such as Sheikh take pride in degrading and bashing women daily on talk shows without realising that it was a woman who has brought them into this world. Calling a woman a prostitute will not do him any good. It just reveals what sort of a person he himself is!

Lastly, it would be horrifying to see a person like him sitting in the Parliament yet again, which unfortunately is very likely.

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.

  • Sami Thinker

    No doubt Film industry people are hurt by such sentences of Shiekh Rasheed but I am appalled to see that Film Actors think that as they are famous they must also be respected! —-Waite…! —- Fame and Respect are two separate things, they must have to understand this. Reham had two choices either to go a silent life after her divorce from IK or go for revenge and she took 2nd option. As far as personal life is concerned i don’t know why people neglect the wrong doings of one by saying its one’s personal life of such person who is going to become head of public. I mean, its absurd. See, when you go for a relationship making you see all minor & major things because we know what futuristic issues we will have to bear. Similarly, seeing the past of a candidate is necessary. Army checks your past before getting you in, Atomic department, Govt job of any field and even before entering in to aeroplane you are scrutinized. So how bloody methodology is this that if you wanna be parliamentarian you are exempted from such scrutiny! This is the biggest stupidity i would say. Personal life is effective on your all aspects of life Hence stop making people stupid.Recommend

  • Sheraz Khalid

    Why? Where is freedom of speech? Desi pseudo liberals? If you dont like his speech simply switch TV channel. Hypocrites.Recommend

  • Syed

    Don’t take him seriously , he is only talking to himself.Recommend

  • Kasturi K

    The freedom of speech stops where the nose of other person starts. Perhaps no one has told you that. It shows your lack of knowledge.Recommend

  • Zohair Reborn

    Background checks have rules.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Bullpucky. This NOT freedom of speech. Would YOU want your mother to hear this?
    Freedom of speech is when you express an opinion in a civil speech. That even a child should be able to hear, freely. A civil discourse. Period.
    Not crass, gutter foul, thug language. It should not be allowed on TV. No need to change channels every two minutes. Where is PEMRA?
    [Probably took a bribe to look the other way. Not do anything.
    But YOU will not be able to understand this. Because YOUR logic is part of this culture in Pakland.Recommend

  • AJ

    Thank you for writing on such an important matter whichnis taken so lightly these days. Shame on such people who use this kind of language and also on those people who would still support them for their words.Recommend

  • wb

    Why Sheikh Rasheed should be shut up?! He’s speaking the hearts and souls of every Pakistani, well…at least…most Pakistanis. A majority of Pakistanis, and in general Muslims, think just like Sheikh Rasheed. He’s a representative of your collective conscience. And it’s manifesting on TV. He’s one of the rare politicians of Pakistan who has come up from nothing. That simply means he has his fingers on the pulses of the nation. That means, the entire country thinks just like he’s speaking.

    If you have the guts blame the entire Muslim community of the world or entire Pakistan for what Sheikh Rasheed is doing. Don’t shoot the messenger. Shoot the message. And the message is loud and clear: The entire Muslim world/Pakistan thinks/speaks like Sheikh Rasheed.Recommend

  • Waqar

    Can someone stop you from posting?Recommend

  • Patwari

    So sorry, but you are a well known Muslim hater from Bharat. So, it can be said:-
    ‘Just as YOU are a manifestation of the Hindutva scourge, that is infesting the Hindus, the world over. like a virus.’ You are proof of how much hate is there in Bharat.
    There is no rhyme or reason to it at all. None, zero, nada, nyet, nahin, nopa nopa, nein.
    Priyanka Chopra the darling of Hinduland, has now become a persona non grata in Hindustan. Because of the Hindutva fever. The Hindustani country is baying for her blood. She hides when she goes back to visit. Her life is in danger from Hindu extremists.
    She can no longer show her face in Bombay or Poona or Madras or Calcutta or Nagpur.
    The poor woman is only an actress in a cancelled TV show. She just follows scripts and acts. Nothing more. Yet the illiterate Hindus have demonized her. This is how evil Hindutva is. Gives you an idea of how irrational the mindset of the Bharati nation has become.
    A herd mentality. Pack, instincts. A mob mentality. That results in Muslim being hanged
    or slaughtered, every day, for the most frivolous of reasons. Look at a cow you’re dead.
    The Gau Raksha vigilantes have taken over the country. Hooligans, thugs everywhere.
    The foremost tenet of Hindutva ideology:- Bharat is for Hindus only. The rest convert or leave. Very very dangerous philosophy. Not going to work.
    Bet you 50 paisas, no minority is converting. Modi Sarkar is a loosing bet. Guaranteed.
    So sorry for your pain.Recommend

  • Adwani

    These old Gamblers and Wife Beaters they are truly brought up in the thicket of jungle and they do not know what they are talking except to make noises like the wild animals with no meaning of their voices.Recommend

  • Adwani

    Freedom of speech does not mean that i abuse you mother and sisterRecommend

  • Leonard Harrison

    Have you heard Marvi Sirmed talk on TV? Do you consider that civil? The writer quotes one of the most intolerant people in the country and you think freedom of speech is civil. Not here in Pakistan. These writers quote anyone that supports there narrative even if they are as disgusting a human being as Marvi Sirmed.Recommend

  • Munsif Azam

    Lets abuse those in the filthiest way possible in the name of freedom of expression. If its tolerable then why do we make such a fuss about the west talks about prophets. The line should never be crossed in a civilized society. But likes of mr rasheed is unaware of his limits; it tells us about his mindset and pedigree.Recommend

  • Malik Iftikhar Ahmed

    Yeh its true that one should give respect to women but what about man’s respect.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Who is Marvi Sirmed?
    Read the comment, again,…S-L-O-W-L-Y.
    There is a description for civil discourse that
    applies to ANY COUNTRY.Recommend

  • Ut

    RK choose to play in the mud I think. Recommend

  • Leonard Harrison

    To any country and every person…….not just the people you hate………Recommend

  • Leonard Harrison

    Also if you don’t know the people who make it their business to comment on our country’s affairs then maybe you are not fit to comment on issues you can never properly understand…..Recommend

  • Leonard Harrison

    Read the article again and you will know the answer to who Sirmed is…..at least know the issue before commenting….GOD.Recommend

  • Patwari

    So sorry to burst your bubble. Well, see it’s called democracy.
    Which means anybody is allowed to comment. Anytime.
    Besides, the topic is “civil discourse”. In public or TV. Period.
    Popularly known as freedom of speech.
    NOT,.. ‘WHO’… is abusing this privilege. There may be a thousand
    name long list of foul mouthed politicians or talking head analysts.
    With this Marvi, whoever, [Sirmed?] added in there, by YOU.
    Do you know who Jashodeben Chimenlal is? Pamela Geller? Brigitte Gabriel? Dilma Rouseff? Laxmibai? Bhaghirathi Sapre? Saadvi Prachi?
    Sushma Sawaraj? Aung san suu kyi?Recommend

  • Ahmar

    Every time I read these blogs, I feel like I am in a movie where “Man’ is the perpetual villain and our dukhiari “Woman”, the hero who will one day smash the patriarchy and send the villainous man to his grave.

    I’ll just go and self-mutilate myself for being so very very mean….Recommend

  • Leonard Harrison

    I know each and everyone of these people and I would not expect you to understand anything besides what you are trying to say. So, I am done wasting my time on you. Toodles!!!!!!!!!1Recommend