Dear people of Pakistan, our politicians may be corrupt looters, but you’re far worse
They say all is fair in love and war, and elections can count as modern-day warfare, which is why some leeway is sort of acceptable for the nastiness that precedes an election. However, even wars have rules, and certain events have transpired that – no matter what side you find yourself on – are completely unforgivable. Not only are we getting to witness the true face of our politicians, we are witnessing the true face of the general populace as well – and it’s ugly.
The following are five events from the past week alone that should make us feel ashamed of ourselves:
1. The attack on Junaid Safdar:
It is not a new phenomenon for our nation to take “justice” into its own hands (public lynchings, anyone?). And when it comes to Nawaz Sharif, our people don’t seem to know where to draw the line. Maryam Nawaz’s son Junaid was recently arrested for a scuffle with a worker from an opposing party, but videos soon emerged showing what the scuffle entailed.
A man can be heard screaming rape threats directed at someone’s mother. While it is unclear who was this being directed at, people on social media have alleged that it was against Junaid. However, unsurprisingly, there are many out there defending what is being said in the video, suggesting that Maryam deserves whatever is coming. While we do not condone physical violence or aggression, how can one possibly in good conscience justify a rape threat? Is being charged as a thief enough for our society to justify rape? In a country that still mourns Zainab and countless other victims of rape, being so cavalier and quick to throw around rape threats – especially when pointed at women we do not like – shows where the problem lies.
Indeed provoke Junaid by being abusive. Rape threats by Insafis ARE common, I’ve faced them myself multiple times on social media & am unsurprised by the same abusive behavior displayed by Insafis at Junaid. Also stand up against abuse in your own ranks with this moral courage.
— Mahwash Ajaz (@mahwashajaz_) July 13, 2018
We all know “honour” makes the Pakistani man’s world go round. That guy allegedly attempted to ‘dishonour’ Junaid by threatening to rape his mother. If this seems like understandable behaviour to anyone, they should really just cease to exist. We already have too many vile human beings in this country; there simply isn’t enough space to accommodate more.
PTI workers stationed outside London flat shouted ‘son of a bitch’ every time they saw Junaid. Anyone would have reacted. https://t.co/Zml91wGKmU
— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) July 12, 2018
Let’s take a look at events in Junaid’s life, and we know it’s too much too much to ask for, but try being in his shoes for a few seconds:
Grandmother: Pronounced brain dead, fighting for her life
Grandfather: Going to jail
Father: In jail
Mother: Going to jail
On top of all that, you cannot leave your house because every time you do, a mob waiting outside start hurling nasty comments at you and your family. And you just had to say goodbye to your mother, knowing what awaits her, and you’re feeling angry and upset when someone passes a comment that was uncalled for.
If someone passed a rape comment about your mother, what would you do? Would it not boil your blood? Would you not react, like every other human would considering human nature? Would you not want to punch that man?
Yes, Nawaz and Maryam have been charged for corruption. But does that make it okay to harass her children? To punish children for the sins of their parents? To tell a son that his mother should be raped? If this is simply how people behave in the heat of the moment, we have no right to ever call #JusticeFor anyone.
Have you ever wondered why Pakistan is the sixth most dangerous country in the world for women? Because our general public consists of people who either casually throw around rape threats, or people who sit back and defend them.
2. The slut-shaming of Reham Khan
Reham’s controversial book ruffled a lot of feathers, even before its release. Though Reham received a lot of flak (as expected) and became a frequent topic in the national conversation, the dialogue would more often than not progress with misogynistic overtones. Thus, it was not surprising to see misogynistic comments yet again after the release of the actual book.
— McDonald Trump™ (@iAmFixerr) July 12, 2018
— Fabricio Werdum (@WerdumMMA) July 12, 2018
I am 100 % sure after seeing this tweet of Reham Khan (The gold digger) that either she is already married 2 sex maniac Shahbaz Sharif or he is having extramarital affairs with this slut https://t.co/mMBiIYTLx2
— Manzoor Ahmed (@Manzoor65096707) June 19, 2018
Reham was stealing his Blackberry and using it pretending to be him long before she left Imran Khan. She may well have planted objectionable material on his Blackberry all by herself.
She is a thief and a 3rd class Slut ..& she is ruining the reputation of her three children. https://t.co/1vn9tVDdri
— Shahida Qureshi (@ShahidaQureshi5) June 14, 2018
For your kind information PTIs storm troopers headed by the Hmza Abasi responding to innuendos like these have taken it upon themselves on behalf of women allegedly insulted by Reham in the book, by calling her prostitute, slut, whore & its colloquial urdu/punjabi terms. https://t.co/hefqobpvDL
— Waleed Javaid (@waleedjavaidd) June 5, 2018
Yes, the contents of the book are questionable, and the moral ambiguity of the revelations needs to be discussed at length. But why are we incapable of criticising women (or men) without inevitably showing how sexist and misogynist we truly are? Can Reham not be critiqued for the content of her book without people mentioning she is a divorcee? Or claiming that Jemima is better than her? Or taking the route followed by Sheikh Rasheed, and calling her a prostitute?
3.The “emasculation” of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
It is not uncommon to see politicians attack each other, neither is it uncommon to see their followers pick up on that rhetoric and attack other political parties and their supporters. After all, all this is strangely part of a healthy democracy. But as mentioned earlier, there are certain limits that can never be crossed, such as mocking Bilawal for unwarranted reasons – not for his participation in dynasty politics, or his father’s alleged corruption, or his party’s lack of action in Sindh, all of which are legitimate reasons to criticise him. Instead, Bilawal is often mocked for his “femininity”, and he is often labelled either a homosexual or a transgender.
Mocking PPP’s paid content making rounds on national TV, Pakistanis did not hesitate to make fun of Bilawal’s manner of speaking, calling it “girlish” and “transgender-like”.
Bilawal is EXPOSED… He is gay, his boyfriend is his former class mate named James David who lives with him as 'water specialist'#MultanMeinTeerChalayga
— Hamid MirⓂ️ (@HamidMirCEO) July 10, 2018
Bilawal is so gay, IK will owns him! 😀😂
— SamKhan (@samkhan2k9) July 10, 2018
I DO NOT VOTE FOR GAY PEOPLE, CLEARLY BILAWAL IS GAY.
— @jakhtar781 (@jakhtar781) July 11, 2018
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's grandsons are quite different from him, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Junior is a cross dresser & most probably a gay, and Bilawal Zardari is not at all manly either.
And now #PPP is all about Zardaris and Talpurs. This the end of Bhutto's legacy.
— Aaria🍃 (@Aariaa_) July 7, 2018
This gay bilawal hejra will run this contry kutttttay tu inka paltoo hy jo in kuttton ko support kr rha
— zeeshan (@zeesha121) July 6, 2018
Could Zardari not find a better trans then bilawal
Poor kid don't even know how to talk like a man
— Idtpltcs (@idtpltcs) June 28, 2018
Is bilawal bhutto a trans?
He sounds exactly like em😂
— madiha shahid (@maddy_shahid) October 16, 2016
We celebrate when a member of the transgender community becomes an anchor, or when a school is built for them or even when a law is placed for their protection. However, we do not hesitate to use the same community as a means to demean others. Because at the face of it, Pakistanis want to seem open-minded, kind and accepting. But in reality they always look down upon anyone that does not fit their idea of “perfect”. Because how can a macho, manly male speak so softly?
4. The defeminisation of women
Another revelation to come out of Reham’s infamous tell-all was the allegation that Imran believes Shireen Mazari is “hardly a woman”.
Mazari is often dragged on social media, and was once again not spared as people took up the opportunity to troll her once again and share precisely the extent to which Mazari was “not a woman”. However, when Ayesha Siddiqa, a scholar of South Asian and military affairs, tweeted about this, people quickly began attacking her as well, with personal attacks on her looks being all-too frequent.
Yeh uncle kis ke hain?? pic.twitter.com/cfQSKdk9l0
— Rooji (@wishingsuave) July 12, 2018
Mam kbhi shakal dekhi hy? Aik baar dekh leti tu ye tweet krny sy pehly hath main thook k doob marti
— Fy Sal (@FysalFsl) July 12, 2018
And she is a UK graduate but Sir looks like a Maasi..Rather our Maasis are lot more respectable and better looking than this thing
— Ahmed M (@AhmedGul4PTI) July 12, 2018
5. A mother ridiculed
A video went viral recently where Nawaz’s mother is seen announcing that she will not let her son go to prison and if he is, she will go with him. We understand that many people thought this was a tactic to gain public sympathy. However, it wasn’t justified what people ended up saying about her. Ridiculing her for giving birth to Nawaz, praying that she is never able to stand on her own two feet or even giving death threats revealed the 50 shades of inhumanity in the people of this country. It is a sad state of affairs when a mother is attacked for trying to protect her son. Even mothers of murderers and rapists would protect their sons, any mother would.
However, it is indeed worse that we do not have even an iota of respect for our elderly.
The elections are just an excuse for people to bring their worst selves to the table – anyone who has seen the Purge movies can probably relate. It doesn’t matter what party you support, at the end of the day, you all vote for harassment. You get what you vote for, and that is why this country is how it is.
The politicians of your country and the people you elect are reflective of the larger public – after all, the corrupt and greedy politicians we despise so much are all coming from within our own people. If anything, the vile and vulgar comments we see on social media day in and day out make it evident that our people are as bad as our politicians. After all, we can only blame politicians for so much; overtime, we’ve transformed precisely into the politicians we love to hate so much. Case in point: Imran Khan
Or perhaps we were always one and the same. What better way to represent a problematic nation than a problematic politician?
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.