February issue 2017

By | Published 4 months ago

Decency seems to have flown out of the window in the murky world of Pakistan’s politics.

The scene of a legislator from Pakistan’s most progressive and woman-friendly party, the PPP, speaking in obscenely suggestive innuendos to a female parliamentarian of PML-F, who committed the “cardinal sin” of asking him to repeat his answer to a question, was outrageous. The errant legislator washed away his sins merely by throwing a red chadar over the victim. All was forgotten — no censure, no expulsion from the Sindh Assembly. Paving the way for more such indiscretions, I daresay, in the future? Still fresh in public mind is the distasteful manner in which a PML-N minister humiliated a female PTI parliamentarian not so long ago.

Few of the country’s political parties can be absolved of such shameful behaviour. If further proof were needed, the spectacle of MNAs from both the PML-N and PTI coming to blows on the floor of the house was equally abominable. The august house presented the appearance of a wrestling ring. For several months now, the two parties have continued to lock horns. Not content with the hearings being conducted by the honourable judiciary, the two sides have been holding their own hearings outside the Supreme Court.

Barbs, expletives and the choicest of abuses are being hurled in front of a captive media. Panama continues to be the be-all and end-all of the parliamentarians’ existence, both inside and outside the assemblies. And the rest of the world be damned!

Bloggers kept disappearing one by one, last month, but the people’s representatives were not concerned about their whereabouts. It was left to civil society to agitate for their recovery and, further, to take on extremist groups that were baying for their blood, by branding them as kafirs and blasphemers. All but one of the bloggers have returned home – only to go underground, on account of the grave threat to their lives.

It is ironic that those who dare to express disagreement with the establishment on social media are ‘disappeared,’ but those like the Maulana of Lal Masjid, who have sworn allegiance to the IS and taken up arms against the state with the large armies of jihadis they maintain, are provided protection by the state.

Interestingly, the belligerent Maulana, who brought Islamabad to its knees, has won the last case filed against him by a brave young activist, who is under death threat from his supporters.

Meanwhile, the other Maulana, who has survived the myriad cross-border allegations of terrorism against him, Hafiz Saeed of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, has been put under house arrest, yet again – ostensibly, in the “national interest.” Has the ‘national interest’ been trumped?

And on another note, the model who was accused of laundering money for the ex-First Husband and his cohorts, has finally been allowed to fly the coop. No, it was certainly not in the national interest. And no, Trump had nothing to do with it.

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.

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