Who’s afraid of Sherry Rehman?

Published: November 6, 2010
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The writer is consulting editor, The Friday Times

The writer is consulting editor, The Friday Times

It has been rather disturbing to witness the way Sherry Rehman has been the latest target of the purists within the ruling PPP. For years, Sherry has represented the intellectual vigour within her party. From drafting of manifestoes to holding the important portfolios, she has been an articulate defender of the PPP and its government. Her decision to resign in the wake of the judges’ saga and media handling of the 2009 Lahore-Gujranwala Long March was a matter of democratic choice.

After her resignation, she did not defame her party leadership and continued to demonstrate her loyalty. She is now a victim of an unwise ban on PPP leaders and legislators preventing them from appearing on a particular television channel. Worse, she has been lumped with the other dissenters — Naheed Khan and Safdar Abbasi — whose politics is altogether different.

The Naheed-Safdar duo has acted like a wounded couple since the time Benazir Bhutto was assassinated and Asif Zardari took over the party. It is a separate matter that sections of the electronic media have been using them as the righteous voice of the PPP in complete disregard of the fact that Ms Khan is neither elected, nor does she hold an official post in the party. Such is the intellectual dishonesty here that Ms Bhutto’s decision of not awarding a women’s seat ticket to Naheed Khan has never been discussed. Similarly, Mr Abbasi who was one of the interlocutors in the NRO deal has overnight become the biggest critic of the ordinance.

On the other hand, Sherry Rehman has no covert agenda and does not allow herself to be used as a pawn in the usual game played by anti-democracy forces. If there was a ‘ban’ on appearing on any particular television channel, the PPP should have taken its leaders and cadres in confidence, instead of issuing a decree via press conferences.

A democratically-elected party, gagging its own senior leaders is worrying to say the least. The issuance of a show-cause notice was followed by a siege of Ms Rehman’s house in Karachi by a mob, while the police stood by and did nothing. Her ailing mother and daughter were in the house and remained hostage for hours.

Since then, the PPP leadership has neither explained nor apologised for the unruly behaviour of the mob that circled her house. Sherry Rehman has served the cause of her party far better than many of its powerful stalwarts of today. Above all, she is not just a politician as she mediates multiple identities: as a legislator, a civil society activist, head of a think-tank and a voice of reason and fine intellect.

By pushing people like her to the wall, the party is only harming itself — because the party needs competent people like her.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • parvez
    Nov 6, 2010 - 12:27PM

    Nice defence of Sherry Rehman.
    Don’t agree with your closing sentance. The party has been transformed and one has to fit in with the new leaderships vision. Intellectual types who wish to do something good even once in a while, are not needed.Recommend

  • SharifL
    Nov 6, 2010 - 1:20PM

    I like Sherry Rehman; she is independent minded, educated and does not pretend to by holier than thou attitude; she does not wear head scarf and talks to men just like human beings. But she has to learn to toe the party line. If you do not agree with central committees decisions, you cannot be considered a loyal party member. Sometimes party makes mistakes, but you have to express your reservations in private. One of the reasons why she was asked to resign from her editorial job in Herald was the same.
    But it is shameful that many in the internet show her pictures in accommodating position with Z. and G and others. Those who are spreading such faked pictures should be ashamed. And this does not come from PPP. Once I told the guy who sent me one of those pictures ‘that accusing somebody without proof is kufr and your 5 times prayers will not help you much’. But this is the mind set of so many pakistanis.
    I agree that demonstrations in front of her house were shameful. Sherry, I like you and wish you all the best. If nothing else, she should be appointed an ambassador to an english speaking country; it will enhance Pakistan’s image, something which needs some help.Recommend

  • Burhan Bhutta
    Nov 6, 2010 - 2:57PM

    I think PPP has now become such a party which needs only spin doctors for propagating their wrong doings and Ms Rehman is not one of those. She is an intellectual who has a clear concept of right and wrong. Sine she has resigned from the ministry’s portfolio on principal basis, she has been a victim of politics of revenge. What Mr. Rumi says is Very much correct.Recommend

  • Nov 6, 2010 - 4:32PM

    Do really looking for an answer to that? Here goes: The same set of people who are afraid of Naheed Khan and Safdar Abbasi – although the reasons are probably not the same and the fear is an order of magnitude greater.

    By the way, you defeat your cause when you question the ban on Ms. Rehman while at the same time validating if for Naheed Khan and Sen. Safdar Abbasi. Too bad you couldn’t build your argument based on democratic principles rather than Ms. Rehman’s personal merits.

    The swipes you takes Ms. Khan and Sen. Abbasi are both low and lowly; you want to know about Shaheed BB’s ‘decision of not awarding a women’s seat ticket to Naheed Khan’? Take it from me: The slain leader considered Ms. Khan’s services as her political secretary indispensable. As for Sen. Abbasi, you have been kind to note he was one of the interlocutors in the NRO deal. Why should that not make him a central party figure?

    You insult Ms. Khan and Sen. Abbasi by implying they can be played by the media as pawns. They are both seasoned politicians, not imbeciles or minors. What is more, being the seasoned journalist that you are, you should know that any game-play involving the media and politicians is invariably mutual.Recommend

  • Saba
    Nov 8, 2010 - 4:25PM

    No one is afraid of her since she represents nothing more than “Aunty Politics”.Recommend

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