How not to treat women


Wajid Shamsul Hasan

TO criticize any Supreme Court judgment TO criticize any Supreme Court judgment  does not fall under the purview of the  contempt provisions. As such our media, analysts and legal experts in post-Panama Supreme Court judgment are either finding faults in it or outright declaring it to be a monumental decision with far reaching consequences for the good of the country. Pakistan’s outstanding crusader for human rights Asma Jehangir and some other leading judicial lights do not think highly of decision.  As the debate continues, the post Panama judgment scenario has been overtaken by raging controversy involving PTI leader Imran Khan and his party’s young MNA from KPK Ayesha Gulalai. It seems that this scandal will not die down soon since Gulalai is putting up a brave face in defiance of plethora of counter charges against her by PTI members. In deference to a growing demand for investigation Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has rightly called for the formation of a special committee to investigate the allegations of harassment levelled against PTI Chairman Imran Khan by MNA Ayesha Gulalai. PPPP Chairman Bilawal Zardari and Senator Sherry Rehman want the matter to be thoroughly probed. Phrase that there is no smoke without a fire says it all. While Gulalai has been holding her defiant fort, Imran Khan has remained circumspect, no outburst and maintained a cool composure. However, his supporters in the KP reacted very strongly. Initially it seemed that there could possibly be a violent eruption in the name of Pakhtunwali – a code of conduct for all tribes. Members of Tribal Jirga still want to prosecute Ayesha under the Code Pakhtunwali. KP govt should ensure that elders who overview rape of minor girl in exchange of rape of another as tribal jirga justice, are not allowed to go berserk. No doubt Gulalai does not seem to be cowed down by threats of vendetta, what has been shocking others who want empowerment of women with equal rights are the inquisitional threats not only being hurled at her but also at her more famous sister who has done Pakistan proud by winning extra-ordinary laurels for the country in the game of squash as international coach. Some misguided IK followers have warned the two sisters that they could even become victims of acid violence.  One could only know how serious Gulalai’s accusations are, the element of truth in them and the possibility of blackmailing motive could be found after the allegations are thoroughly investigated. One must appreciate the gesture of PTI chief Imran Khan asking his over-enthusiastic followers not to harm her sister Maria Toopraki or Ayesha Gulalai—irrespective of Gulalai’s charges against him. Threats to Maria and  Gulalai by Imran Khan’s followers seems to have punctured the euphoria in the disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court. It has brought into national focus the controversial issue of the treatment of women in Pakistan’s overly oppressive tribal society where a minor girl is allowed to be forcibly raped in exchange of rape of another under the code of Pakhtunwali. While debate is on, many condemning Gulalai for what they call her bid to blackmail one of the only “Sadiq and Ameen” political leaders globally known for his fair and judicious treatment to women that could even be vouched by Tyrene’s mother Sita White if she were alive today— Gulalai’s allegations have opened the Pandora’s box of maltreatment of Pakistani women in our tribally-oriented society dominated by religious bigotry. Gulalai has brought into national focus the wider issue of the treatment of women in public and Parliament and political parties. No doubt male political leaders want to outmatch each other in their claim to stand for empowerment of women; their reaction is altogether different when their own shoe starts pinching. Here one would not like to refer to the frequent misbehaviour in the NA by Khawaja Asif with PTI’s Dr Shireen Mazari. One hopes that his becoming Foreign Minister would set at rest his seven year itch to have a go at women parliamentarians. Senior Parliamentarians must get down to imposing a code of conduct to eliminate all possibilities of male misbehaviour with women parliamentarians. Notwithstanding NAB reference, former Prime Minister’s daughter Maryam Nawaz now as PML-N leader must introduce a strict code for both men and women that could foster among others a culture of grace and tolerance.One hopes Imran Khan too would rein in the PTI hot-headed cadres that try to outmatch each other in use of street language to overpower their opponents. Both PTI and PML-N need to learn something from PPP where women members are respected and treated with grace. Martyred Benazir Bhutto’s daughters—Bakhtawar and Aseefa now playing active role in PPP are sure guarantors for equal and graceful treatment to the female Parliamentarians.— The writer is former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and a veteran journalist.Email: [email protected]