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No more misogyny, Mr Khan

I grew up in the late 1980s and early 1990s, almost worshipping Imran Khan as a cricket captain. I can’t forget the countless delights he had given us as a nation by winning umpteen matches for Pakistan and crowning his cricket journey with a world cup win in 1992.

My present-day passion for cricket was fuelled by Imran Khan alone. Later when he embarked upon creating his cancer hospital, I felt obliged to help my fellow former Aitchisonian in this honourable pursuit. His entry into politics too attracted my attention and I joined his campaign as a volunteer along with my mother, who was part of the first women’s wing of the PTI. We were the voices of the Tonga party that the PTI once was way back in the late 1990s. While my mother continues to support him and votes for IK and his party to date, I realized he was not the man that I thought he was and stopped supporting him way back in 1999.

I don’t even know where to start. I am writing all of this as a very agitated man who just got off the television set watching IK spew misogynist filth yet again. I actually had to ask my wife to proofread this as I didn’t want to cross any red lines of decency and maturity.

The main reason my hero-worshipping of IK ended was when I heard his views on women way back in time. While I refuse to comment on his past life, as I don’t want to judge his person, I am more inclined to comment on his political views instead of anything else. Sadly, the more I heard him speak and the more I read what he believed in, the more I got disgusted and upset with him. His regressive views on women, his double standards in life, his plethora of contradictions, and his constant fusion of religion into politics and – worse of all – his self-righteous messiah syndrome made me campaign against him and his party thereon.

One can always say he isn’t the only politician who thinks this way or his party isn’t the only party that does have misogynists amongst their ranks, but my answer to that comment is that how many party heads claim to be what IK claims to be? How many of them criticize all others calling them names, abusing them, slandering them without proof and what not? How many act as self-righteous while abusing all others?

This country has had a very ugly record of treating its women. We have a list of abuses, killings, image trashing and what not of women both in and out of politics. From Fatima Jinnah, to Benazir Bhutto, from Nusrat Bhutto to Maryam Nawaz and from Jemima Khan to Bushra Bibi, we have crossed several red lines of decency, etiquettes and norms. Many IK supporters are echoing the party line of what Sharif brothers did to malign the Bhutto ladies in the past and how Jemima Khan was targeted and maligned ruthlessly. So my question is: does that mess justify today’s vilification of Maryam Nawaz? Are those actions of the past a licence to go after the women in the Sharif family today? Should this then be used as a logic tomorrow by Junaid Safdar to go after Imran Khan’s female relations?

In the same vein, why should or how can a personal attack on Nawaz Sharif’s daughter be justified today? We may hate, disagree and criticize the politics, actions or stance of all the women mentioned, but we cannot pass sexist, misogynist and vile comments about them and others at any cost. None of that is justified or acceptable ever.

We live in a country already hostile, intolerant, rigid and unacceptable of women/ girls to live their lives the way they want. We are in a Pakistan that hates when its women march once a year on the streets of this country more than it hates the men who rape, threaten and kill them on a daily basis. We belong to a nation that laughs in public and privately when women are targeted for their clothes, their lifestyles, their choices and more so for being themselves. We are part of a society that teaches a woman from childhood to obey and tolerate all that society (read: men) says or does and to suppress, control and forget her dreams in life. We live in houses where girls are caged, bottled up and forced to live the lives chalked out by men of the house and society without asking them for their opinions, views and choices about their own lives.

This is why it is even worse when a man who is an ‘inspiration’ to millions, has a cult following of blind supporters and also happens to be a former prime minister, vying for another term in office, targets a much younger rival female politician at a massive public rally passing misogynist comments openly and shockingly at the delight and applause of his fan base present at the rally and listening to him on television. His remarks were welcomed and disgustingly justified by his followers and party men (and women), and became part of acceptable and institutionalized content about women in general. The younger followers finding a blind inspiration to this blatant misogyny and more becomes an even greater worry.

You can debate, deliberate, disagree, shred and blast Maryam Nawaz’s views on politics or that of her party, but sorry Mr Khan you have no right to hit below the belt with your typically sexist remarks and then have a smirk on your face which eggs on your supporters and party leaders/ workers to ape you on this and take it to a much higher and filthier level.

This filth has to stop and it has to stop now before even you can’t control it. How you can stoop to such low levels of indecency, sexism and misogyny is beyond understanding. While many may agree with your calls to cleanse the country of the corruption that has eaten away the soul of this country, they may still not vote for you or stand behind you because of your mindset, views and beliefs about women.

I am a proud father of a gifted young girl, I am a husband to a talented wife and I am a son to a dedicated mother and even if I had neither of these women in my life, I would still oppose you for the ugly message you send out there to the mesmerized youth of this country and the immediate impact it has on our bigoted, intolerant and misogynist society as a whole.

You constantly quote the Holy Quran, the Prophet (pbuh), Riyasat-e-Madina’s culture, Iqbal’s vision and Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan – and then you go on to use such condemnable language and promote such a different mindset and culture. Either you stop pretending and come out with the real you or you think hard and deep before you say things. Absolutely Not to your misogyny, Mr Khan. No more.

Taimur K Bandey, "No more misogyny, Mr Khan," The News. 2022-05-23.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Political views , Politics-Pakistan , Politicians , Corruption , Leadership , Nawaz Sharif , Imran Khan , PTI