Former prime minister Imran Khan is once again facing flak by the people of Pakistan for his sexist and misogynistic remarks. At a rally in Multan, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief’s deplorable remarks against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz left both his supporters and adversaries with a sour taste in their mouths.
Imran Khan, although seen as a breath of fresh air in comparison to all the other politicians in Pakistan, is not perfect. He has many vices and one of the greatest one is his misogynistic nature. In his previous interviews and addresses to the nation, he has blamed women’s choice of clothing as a reason for the increasing number of rapes in Pakistan. He uses the term ‘fahashi’ to refer to the drama and film industry of Pakistan which is highly demeaning for all those who are a part of it. In order to please the far right conservative voter base, he has time and time again blamed and shamed women for many evils of society. Moreover, he has been an active proponent of better ties with the Afghan Taliban who are known for their persecution and rigid policies for women.
If the recent political temperature and ensuing content are evaluated, we can see the flurry of personal attacks being fire both the PML-N and the PTI sides. In recent days, the PML-N leaders have also hurled misogynistic and sexist remarks on rival politicians. The PPP must be praised for its keeping decency in rhetoric about rival women. Politicians must sit together and manufacture SOPs for a better political environment. Personal attacks should not be welcome in any capacity and attacks like such show the true nature of the level of politics. The PTI must be credited with creating its rallies women-friendly, and for that reason, women participate in PTI rallies in droves. At the start of his speech in Multan, Imran Khan praised the women who joined his rally and said that no nation can move towards a revolution unless its women are a part of the struggle. In the middle of the speech, he demeaned a woman. How does Khan expect women to be a part of his struggle if he is not willing to respect them, no matter who they are? Attacks on political opponents are an important part of rhetoric, however, they must never demean a person. How do politicians dream of being the leaders of a nation that is made up of 48 per cent of women if they continue to disrespect and demean them. Our political class should let go of his Trumpian politics and ideas and learn how to respect women in all capacities. Political enmity does not justify below-the-belt comments against each other, especially women. If Imran Khan and his rivals continue to do so, they are setting a precedent for their followers to disrespect women in politics and in general in a society which is already aversive towards women.