Calling out the real bullies

Published: February 10, 2012
The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance communications consultant. She tweets @tazeen and blogs at

The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance communications consultant. She tweets @tazeen and blogs at

Bullies; we have all heard of them at some point in our lives, the more unfortunate ones amongst us have faced the wrath of bullies at no provocation at all. However, very few of us stand up to them. In fact, people who get bullied would lash out at their well-wishers who either point out the fact that they are being bullied, or tell them to bully their opponents right back.

Something similar happened with Najam Sethi on the eve of February 7. In his TV show, Najam Sethi ran a clip where Maulana Fazlur Rehman was alluding that Imran Khan was politicking at the behest of some nameless and faceless Jews. He also ran a clip of the PTI chief saying that Maulana Fazlur Rehman is one of the three people responsible for the mess the country is in. Sethi later said that Imran Khan should have been more vocal in his defence and should have denounced the Maulana more vociferously than he did because the latter will not let go of Imran Khan’s Jewish connection (Khan’s ex-wife and mother of his children is of Jewish, Catholic and Protestant heritage) and will use it against him again and again during the elections later this year.

Jemima Khan, Khan’s ex-wife, heard the words “Imran Khan, Jewish lobby, conspiracy” and without actually watching the programme or asking anyone with a better grasp of Urdu, jumped to the conclusion that it was Najam Sethi who was stirring up trouble for Khan. She was never considered particularly bright by anyone of note, and now even less so when she took to the microblogging website, Twitter, to start a personal attack on Najam Sethi where she wrote that — he had always been critical of Imran Khan except when his (Sethi’s) wife and him wanted an invitation to dine with late Princess Diana. Her intention, clearly was to undermine Sethi’s credibility as a journalist.

What followed was just as crazy as any other war of words on social media, but it is significant in revealing that politics based on religion is quite flourishing in Pakistan. No one is willing to take on this issue head-on, instead, they either try to shoot the messenger — in this case Najam Sethi — or join forces with the those spreading vitriolic hatred. It was Maulana Fazlur Rehman who first spoke about Imran Khan’s Jewish connection, but it was Sethi — an easier target who can perhaps only retaliate with arguments instead of something more sinister or dangerous — who got burned for just pointing his fingers to the bully in question.

Some really charged-up PTI members even started an online campaign demanding Sethi be removed from the air for “making some immoral remarks about Imran Khan’s ex-wife Jemima Khan”. The fact that the campaign has received 631 signatures as yet, tells us a lot about how people form opinions — divorced from reason, nuance, logic — when deciding whom to vote for.

In the past, Imran Khan has been roughed up by the goons of the Islami Jamiat Talaba in Punjab University but we have not heard such vehement condemnation for them, either because of political expediency or because of the fact that the PTI was afraid of a repeat performance. Whatever the reason is, no one is calling out the real bullies who are getting away with all kinds of transgressions.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2012.


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Reader Comments (57)

  • Hameedullah
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:06AM

    I watched that program. Najam Sethi did not say anything immoral about Khan’s wife. More so he was with Imran Khan as far as the ‘Jewish Connection’ propaganda is concerned.Recommend

  • Uza Syed
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:07AM

    Jemima Khan—–“She was never considered particularly bright by anyone of note”—–you said it Tazeen. Does Najam Sethi or, for that matter, anyone else need “making some immoral remarks about Imran Khan’s ex-wife Jemima Khan” ? The great-Khan’s greater ex the famous Jemima Khan is all over the media (printed and electronic). do I or anyone needs Najam Sethi’s purported remarks the lady is available all over on the YouTube, just for asking.


  • Saad
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:11AM

    I was one of those bullies, until I found out what actually happened :( and then apologized to Sethi sahab :( the feeling of the guilt was really bad :(


  • faraz
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:11AM

    This article is more of a news report


  • Sahar
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:17AM

    “She was never considered particularly bright by anyone of note, and now even less so”
    This is extremely rude and uncalled for. Jemima may have misunderstood Sethi’s intentions but that does not give the writer the right to pass derogatory and offensive comments. It saddens me to see such poor journalism.


  • Falcon
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:24AM

    I regret what happened but please do note that your following statement regarding Jemima Khan does come across condescending…”She was never considered particularly bright by anyone of note, and now even less so when she took to the microblogging website, Twitter”…lastly, my humble opinion…the issue is not significant enough to deserve an exclusive op-ed by an enlightened intellectual


  • AlifBayPay
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:28AM

    I think it is writer who had a quick look at the tweets and proceeded to write an article (she has done something similar in a blog post of her’s where she had not properly researched the subject being discussed).

    Jemima was not commenting on the Najam Sethi’s programme (as the writer asserts) but on his tweet. Here is what happened:

    A user on twitter called @qumarmc said this to Najam Sethi: Whatta Try To distort facts To say IK married a jew woman even her father wasn’t jew he Was catholic ..u better b careful

    Najam Sethi replied to the above with this: @qumarmc Brit media described Jemima as a “jewish heiress”. Google her. But it doesn’t matter. Love transcends. Didn’t she convert to Islam?

    It was on the above tweet of Najam Sethi that Jemima sent a number of tweets on the issue. Later she herself clarified that she wan’t commenting on her programme but on the tweet as can be seen below:

    @najamsethi The point is not what you said on the programme- It’s your tweets I object to and your relentless, hate campaign over 15 yrs

    Tazeen Javed used to boast of her ‘faraghat’ in her Twitter/Blog bio some time back. Seems that she is only faarigh enough to jump to conclusions and write a quick article; not quite interested in writing in checking the facts first.


  • Usman
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:33AM

    Our religious leaders need to be intellectuals and scholars. Have we all forgot what Wiki leaks had revealed? Diesel met with US Ambassador and offered his services to the majesty if made PM.

    Now come to Sethi. He has always been against Imran Khan. He used to be the tout of Army at one time and now he speaks against it. He has always been a supporter of all corrupt leaders at one point or another. People like him is what is wrong with our country. Stop listening to him and paying any attention to him.

    Finally, the writer seems to be one of the millions of heart broken women who wasn’t picked by the great Khan. Please don’t hold any grudge against Jemima, in your words she was just the messenger. Imran is the culprit since he asked her (and not you) to marry him. Your words like “..She was never considered particularly bright by anyone of note..” are not only distasteful but also petty. Judging from the writing above, you don’t seem to be particularly bright either.Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:38AM

    but, but, how will the PTI ppl feel good about themselves now that their latest source of satisfaction has turned out to be a complete farce?


  • Neutral
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:38AM

    Imran Khan in his recent speeches and interviews that I’ve seen has criticised Fazul Rehman in the most ferocious manner, so how could the writer imply that Imran Khan is afraid of the real bullies. Perhaps, the writer has some sympathy for Najam Sethi for whatever and is using this forum to fool us. Nejam Sethi is on the payroll of secret agencies.Recommend

  • Mustafa Kamal
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:42AM

    Because IK has got more lotas, so the inqilabis are charged-up for signing the petition.


  • qe
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:56AM

    This was a non issue
    Why is this topic even discussed …
    what happens on twitter let it remain on twitter….


  • why
    Feb 11, 2012 - 1:00AM

    Why do we have to bring Imran khan’s ex wife into everything….
    she is not even relevant in Pakistan’s politics
    dont we have other issues to discuss about


  • bayareaguy
    Feb 11, 2012 - 1:01AM

    PTI is becoming another fascist party where if you argue anything about the leader, you are condemned to death by web warriors. Most of its followers if they are now eligible to vote should get a crash training in peoples skills. It looks like PTI has already peaked and its now only down-hill from where it stood on Oct 30.


  • Talha
    Feb 11, 2012 - 1:10AM

    Immy K and his fanboys are devoid of any rationality.

    An emotional and aggressive posture over all matters will not achieve anything.

    May Allah help this country.


  • cbs
    Feb 11, 2012 - 1:21AM

    Jemima was justified in condemning Najam Sethi because if you see the TV show carefully he clearly implied that Jemima is a jew and her children are being brought up in a Jewish environment which is not a fact.


  • amm
    Feb 11, 2012 - 1:24AM

    what to call you except ignorant. Did you read Jemima comments on Fazl- Rehman when he first opened his mouth on this issu? Did you heard IK responses to Molana in numerous interviews. Did you read IK book and what he wrote about IJT?Come one , if you try to write a column, first get your facts right.


  • Feb 11, 2012 - 1:27AM

    Did he or did he not say Imran married a Jewish woman? Isn’t that false? Isn’t there anti-antisemitism in our society? Why play the tapes and reiterate these arguments at all if you are concerned? Seems like the point of your piece is to call everyone who thought was Sethi did was wrong, completely stupid and ignorant.

    The problem is not what Najam Sethi thinks is right or wrong or who he is defending. The problem is that he believes Jemimah Khan is/was Jewish, which is not true, and in a sick way gives the Molana’s argument undue substance. In my opinion this shouldn’t even involve Imran. Najam Sethi said Jemimah Khan was Jewish, she said he was wrong.


  • Feb 11, 2012 - 1:29AM

    Oh and way to degrade somebody calling them “not bright” who is working with an NGO to save innocent lives in your tribal areas.


  • Rafay
    Feb 11, 2012 - 1:31AM

    Sethi? credibility? wow….never thought they could be used in the same sentence


  • dr j tipu
    Feb 11, 2012 - 1:41AM

    baseless issue…im a pakistani born medic and i denounce moulana and his goons as pseudo moulanas who have played havoc with religion in south asia and i think its actually them who have foreign hand (as emerged on wikileaks) with moulana pleading uncle sam for premiership. what a shameful character


  • Ahsan Mlk
    Feb 11, 2012 - 1:51AM

    Watch here:

    He does not say that Maulana Fazlur Rehman thinks like this. He used the words himself. He WAS NOT defending IK. We do not need anyone to defend Imran Khan or anyone else. Only the truth needs to be spoken.

    So your whole article seems to be based on your own wrong perception. Do go through the clip again (and again if need be).


  • Feb 11, 2012 - 2:00AM

    Thank you for writing this piece! Unfortunately, space for civil dialogue and debate has been alarmingly shrinking in violence-prone Pakistan. It is far too easy for right-wing religious extremists and the establishment to target civil activists & journalists who have only the power of logic and arguments at their disposal.

    Few in Pakistan can take on Maulanas who command marauding street power, as Imran Khan himself has repeatedly said when probed on his stance re the blasphemy law. Mr. Sethi made an easier soft target for Jemima in this exchange. I hope our political leadership moves past sordid name-dropping of dead royalty, and instead tackles the disturbing trend to violence in our public sphere. Imran Khan and PTI can only bring about their promised change in Pakistan if they can stop the systematic use of violence against dissent and institutionalize creeping discrimination against minorities.


  • Pakistani First
    Feb 11, 2012 - 2:06AM

    Nobody here even mentioned the oppourtunist Maulana and his disgraceful statement. Maulana shahib you and I both drink Pepsi and Coke, this makes us a member of the Jewish Lobby right? These companies and thousands more running in Pakistan have Jewish owners, what are you going to do about that Maulana Shahib, ban them? I think your orange turban is too tight on your head, it hinders your thinking.


  • Raza Bashir
    Feb 11, 2012 - 2:09AM

    This blogger needs to get her facts right. Jemima responded to Najam Sethi’s tweet and not his programme. Secondly Imran has repeatedly reminded his workers and fans about the Jamaat Islami attack on him. He even wrote about it in his new book. Thirdly passing derogatory remarks on Jemima reflect her bias rather then provide an actual description about the incident and persons she is writing about in a supposedly fair manner. She needs to do her homework next time. Recommend

  • BS Detector
    Feb 11, 2012 - 2:27AM

    What you guys do on twitter all day passing nasty remarks on the so and so you dont like because of his views is nothing short of clique-ish behaviour and nasty bullying.


  • Mirza
    Feb 11, 2012 - 2:49AM

    A very rich prince Khan and his royal family are sacred cows and cannot be touched. However, everybody else’s life is open season for all. That is how fascist tendencies start. The highly educated IK should be careful from these blind supporters. In politics personal life and character is fair game and if you cannot take the heat get out of the kitchen. People who love their privacy do not offer themselves for political scrutiny and limelight.


  • afaqui
    Feb 11, 2012 - 2:54AM

    The secularoons and the liberaloons are antsy about Imran Khan..because Imran Khan is muslim and loves Islam…and respects Jamaat-i-Islami…They hate that he is no longer a westoxicated scum like themselves.


  • Chulbul Pandey
    Feb 11, 2012 - 3:16AM

    @Author: The fact that the campaign has received 631 signatures as yet, tells us a lot about how people form opinions — divorced from reason, nuance, logic — when deciding whom to vote for.

    Seems more like herd mentality. Also, if any xyz’s spouse is Jew, what difference does it make The spouses and children of a candidate should be left alone and not dragged into politics. That Maulana is engaging in dirty politics. Does he not realize that whatever he has been doing is immoral behavior?


  • Feb 11, 2012 - 3:25AM

    At the risk of sounding another bully to which the learned writer referred to above, I disagree with the notion that Sethi Saab was defending Imran Khan because he simply wasn’t. In fact he explained the Jewish lobby allegation made by Fazl-ur-Rahman and in the process quite clearly and WRONGLY labeled Jemima Khan a Jew when she isn’t one.

    So yes there wasn’t anything anti-Semitic about what Sethi Sb said but it was factually incorrect to call Mr. Khan’s ex-wife a Jew and purely from the journalistic point of views warrants an explanation. I know many of my liberal friends here would say that calling someone a Jew shouldn’t be a big deal (and I completely agree with them) but in a society which is as myopic and narrow-minded such as ours and where religious bias is at an all-time high, it is indeed an issue that should be tread with caution. After all, Fazl-ur-Rahman while making such an accusation is fully aware of the psyche of the bigoted constituency which gives precedence to someone’s religion over his/her character.


  • PTI troll 76
    Feb 11, 2012 - 3:25AM

    Written in bad taste, we respect Mr Sethi despite differences of opinion. Please for heavens sake give Jemima a break, have we not screwed up her life enough???

    Please call us bad, call us false prophets, call us lotas, do your worst. But please leave Jemima alone


  • m
    Feb 11, 2012 - 4:02AM

    1)The very same IK interview that sethi broadcast is also the one where IK lambasts Maulana for his politics. Did you even see the interview or are you fooling your readers by highlighting only the convenient part of it? IK has been EXTREMELY vocal of jamiat and fazlur rehman in recent months.
    2)Also the main issue was the sethi’s tweet so once again you’re dragging the interview in the wrong context, even jemima clearly said her problem was with sethis tweet
    3) “She was never considered particularly bright by anyone of note, and now even less so when she took to the microblogging website, Twitter” What kind of a cheap shot is this and how can ET allow such personalised attacks and catty comments to be published in their op-eds?? This is not only the kind of cheap catty behaviour that is uncalled for on a public forum but actually makes you guilty of the very act you’re calling out the bullies. Arnt you the person who a while ago also made similar personal attacks on jemima on twitter and your blog. It’s hypocrisy to call out others on cyber bullying when your guilty of doing the same. IF you cant take it DONT dish it
    4) Also if bullying bothers you so much stick to your facebook account which is private and exchange all your cliquish catty remarks with ur friends. But when you sign on to twitter and are on a public forum, then be prepared to receive public backlash for what your going to publish for the world to see.
    I dont feel sorry for you or sethi because you guys and yours friends also indulge in such bullying crass behaviour on twitter all day. All i can say is what goes around comes aroundRecommend

  • Jamshed
    Feb 11, 2012 - 4:31AM

    Well you Missed the point I dont think jemima really watch najam sethi’s show … she replied to the tweet of najam sethi where he said “@qumarmc Brit media described Jemima as a “jewish heiress”. Google her. But it doesn’t matter. Love transcends. Didn’t she convert to Islam?

    that when it all started .. Recommend

  • Usman Khan
    Feb 11, 2012 - 6:57AM

    What is wrong with checking the facts? Another ‘writer’, same story. The fact that the author wrote an opinion piece to clarify the exchange of words between Jemima Khan and Najam Sethi but did not bother to do any research into what really transpired speaks volumes about the author herself. She then goes on to make sweeping statements about Jemima such as ‘Jemima…heard the words “Imran Khan, Jewish lobby, conspiracy”…jumped to the conclusion…’ and ‘she was never considered bright..’ Recommend

  • Arifq
    Feb 11, 2012 - 8:00AM

    Dear writer, please excuse my ignorance but why do you and many others refer to Jemima as Jemima Khan, is she not divorced?


  • Iram
    Feb 11, 2012 - 9:22AM

    Sethi sab sorry and treat it miscommunication, you are a key media person and we can’t afford your wrath.


  • SharifL
    Feb 11, 2012 - 11:39AM

    in a counry obsessed with religion, being a Jew can be a crime, or a hindu or an Ahmadi. Sooner or later we should come to reason. But that will not happen in our life time. Najam sethi a great journalist and I view his opinions with great resepect, even though I might disagree with them sometimes.


  • Adeel
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:07PM


    That’s because she still use her married name. She even use Jemima Khan as her by line.


  • naeem
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:29PM

    Mr Sethi is close friend of maulana which he claims in his prog.Request Sethi to impartial and not to be biased against army isi and IK.


  • Saad Raees
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:32PM

    That’s because most of the women in West do not change their names back after divorce!


  • Shoot Later
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:38PM

    Superior investigation and comment AlifBayPay
    As for Jemima – she has my utmost respect regardless of her faith. She is a sincere and constructive person who makes the world a better place than she finds it.
    A generous helping of humble pie for Tazeen in the form of an apology to Jemima is the least Tazeen can do to remain credible.


  • Irshad Khan
    Feb 11, 2012 - 1:13PM

    This is not an article but something else and should not be given space in a newspaper of high standard ie Express Tribune. A useless discussion only, sorry to say.


  • Ziaahmad
    Feb 11, 2012 - 3:08PM

    sorry but not good enough

    NS try to connect Ik , PT and NS to Judaism and that was wrong


  • Ali
    Feb 11, 2012 - 3:21PM

    The esteemed writer called Jemima as not being very intelligent .Tazeen failed to even watch the prog before writing this half baked piece. Watch the show again, sethi sd ‘yahodi sey shadi ki thi, aur bachay yahodi mahool mein palay hain’. Najam Sethi said this himself and was not quoting Fazal ur Rehman.

    Jemima converted to Islam and Imran’s children are being raised as Muslims.Once they were asked by English media which cricket team do they supp pak or eng? Their answers ‘We Support Pakistan.’


  • Frank Observer
    Feb 11, 2012 - 3:28PM

    A cheap shot by the writer. Let’s not bring his ex-wife into it. Show some respect for God’s sake. You have no right to conclude that ”she was never considered particularly bright by anyone of note”. This is simply not true. She’s a graduate of Bristol University which is the fouth best best university in the UK and one of the best in the world. She also holds a masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies from London School of Oriental and African Studies, which again is one of the best in the world. And if that’s not enough, she became an Ambassador for UNICEF UK in 2001 and went on field trips to Kenya, Romania, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where she helped victims of the 2005 earthquake by raising emergency funds. She has promoted UNICEF’s Breastfeeding Manifesto, Growing Up Alone and End Child Exploitation campaigns in the UK. Now that’s a lot more than both Najam Sethi and the writer can ever do in their entire life for the good of humanity. Moreover, Jemima is currently the Associate Editor of the New Statesman and European editor-at-large for Vanity Fair.

    After all this, it would look very silly and stupid if someone says that she’s not very intelligent. For the writer, two words come to mind: “sour grapes”.Recommend

  • Feb 11, 2012 - 3:59PM

    I’m not interested in Najam Sethi, but when Maulana sings ‘Jewish propaganda’ theme song of theirs nobody comes to Imran Khan’s defence. But when youngsters on Twitter/Facebook defend him, they are bullies. What kind of logic is that? Why don’t you shun Maulana and Sethi from making such false accusations, Tazeen?


  • Ammara Ahmad
    Feb 11, 2012 - 4:25PM

    Point well-taken Tazeen, thank you


  • Lobster
    Feb 11, 2012 - 4:31PM

    Some writers/columnists just want to attack Imran Khan, I am not talking about Sethi but this columnist. And since they don’t find much against, they can even write columns about bullying and blame it on PTI.


  • Imran
    Feb 11, 2012 - 4:38PM

    Jemima did not react to Najam Sethi’s Program… She reacted to his tweet… which can be seen here…

    God I’m sick of so called FREE LANCE journalists…. in the world where there is no such thing as free lunch… we have so called journalists serving forged news to the people in the name of jounalism…

    We know that you wrote this to help Sethi…. but at least use a proper reference first….

    Again see here what Najam Sethi tweeted


  • mani
    Feb 11, 2012 - 4:40PM

    Its really surprising that Maulana and Sethi are at same page against Imran Khan. Other common ground between these two is love for Asif Zardari.


  • siddique
    Feb 11, 2012 - 5:49PM

    Madam jamima respond on Tweet not on TV program. and she was right and the petitioners were also right. najam seti tweets was so embarrasing for all our nation. He should apologize.


  • Syed Hussein El-Edroos
    Feb 11, 2012 - 5:53PM

    Although I was among the first to sign the petition asking Najam Sethi to be removed, I now realize, I jumped the gun. One should be absolutely clear before taking a stand for or against.

    My request to all, especially the writers, is to carryout thorough research before arriving at a conclusion.


  • American
    Feb 11, 2012 - 6:58PM

    Khan has spoken out repeatedly against Maulana in his response to this comment…. I’ve heard it 3 times already over the past 3 days in TV interviews. He’s repeatedly said that the damage Fazlur Rehman has done to Islam is something no external force could have done.

    Thus, I don’t see how this bully analogy works at all. He talked about those Jamat bullies in the first few pages of his book. What else do you want him to do. Or are you just sitting in your room concocting ideas of how to prove Khan is wrong? I sense some personal bias here. Something that doesn’t belong in journalism.


  • Feb 11, 2012 - 8:46PM

    Our public transport system is in tatters, due to shortage of gas, literally millions of families wait
    anxiously for their working members for hours, the inconvenience of hours of waiting on bus stops, then in the end people either have to pack in the vans in bending position or have to hang outside them to get to the work or back home. There is no decency left in our society, all these half bred so called leaders including mullas shy away from real life problems affecting millions of hard working people Pakistani. Shame on inapt ruling class, absolutely abhorant people. Stop creating all this none sense superficial problems, people had enough on their plate already.


  • Ashar
    Feb 12, 2012 - 4:54AM

    Well the writer has shown her bias by calling Jemima a “not very bright” person. Recommend

  • abid
    Feb 12, 2012 - 5:39PM

    the cheapest kind of short-kut to publicity, now a days is to to pick Imran Khan, his ex-wife, uncle, mama, chacha, taya, or how he was dressed that day, or why he was this on that day blallaalalalla…..and start bashing… will be on headlines the very next hour


  • tnt
    Feb 13, 2012 - 8:13AM

    the writer doznt know that jamima replied to najam seethi’s tweet.. not the show.


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