The apology made by the Pakistan People’s Party MPA Imdad Pitafi for his abuse of Nusrat Seher Abbasi smacked of mocking hypocrisy. There was no sense of sincerity in the apology for his abuse of Ms Abbasi in the Sindh Chamber last week as the smirk on his face revealed while he draped an ajrak over her shoulders saying that she was a sister to him. It was a display of fakery that merely underscored the sexism and misogyny that ran like a putrid vein throughout this short but sorry affair. For her part Ms Abbasi on Monday 23rd January said that she ‘forgave’ Mr Pitafi. She had previously threatened self-immolation, and been pictured holding a bottle of petrol by way of threat if she did not receive an apology. There are suggestions that a group of (male) elders brokered this charade perhaps at the behest of a doubtless embarrassed PPP apex management. Whilst the PPP carries the responsibility for this latest display of male egotism and misogyny they are just the most recent to fly the flag of disrepute.
To all intents and purposes Mr Pitafi has got off scot-free using the fig leaf of ‘tradition’ in the presentation of the ajrak as a vehicle for his escape. The PPP leadership in the form of Bilawal Bhutto was slow to react and has itself taken no direct action against its chauvinist MPA, in itself a true reflection of the low status, indeed contempt, with which women in politics are viewed and treated by what is supposedly the most liberal and enlightened of the political parties nationally.
Women in politics are either there as a proxy for other male members of their family, or are viewed as inconvenient add-ons imposed by political correctness and a desire to satisfy foreign observers. Women are for the most part nowhere welcome in the assemblies any more than they are in other areas of public life. A tiny number of women fight their way to the top of the heap and they are accorded a phony ‘respect’ as has been Ms Abbasi. Shabby, gentlemen, very shabby indeed.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2017.
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