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Sindh Assembly row highlights misogyny afflicting parties

KARACHI: A rather unseemly verbal duel in the Sindh Assembly between a woman member belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, Nusrat Seher Abbasi, and a Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) minister, Imdad Pitafi, on Friday not only gripped the attention of thousands of people watching the proceedings live on television, but also served to highlight the chauvinistic mindset prevailing among leaders of parties often dubbed “liberal and progressive”, according to analysts.

The unsavoury episode began when Ms Abbasi put a question to Mr Pitafi, only to receive an invitation to his chamber for what he called “a satisfactory reply”.

If that was not enough, the television cameras caught a UK-educated PPP lawmaker, Nawab Muhammad Taimur Talpur, taunting Ms Abbasi. The remarks made the other ruling party members burst into laughter.

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah was in the house when this was happening.

For many legislators the episode, which lasted several minutes, might have been an unfortunate one, but none of them seemed to be surprised.

The episode just brought back the memories of another noisy incident, which took place in the National Assembly.

In June last year Defence Minister Khawaja Asif came under fire from opposition lawmakers for making offensive remarks against a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf member, Shireen Mazari.

The two aforementioned incidents are in the knowledge of many, simply because they were covered extensively by the media. But, according to the analysts, many equally controversial incidents went unnoticed.

“This is unfortunate and I personally believe that male chauvinism exists in almost all our parties,” said Zohra Yusuf of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), when asked to comment on the Friday incident. “But the situation becomes worse when someone from parties like the PPP, which claim to be liberal and progressive, does something like this. I think… Asif Ali Zardari or Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari should take notice of this.”

Asma Jahangir, a former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and noted human rights activist, expressed similar views.

She termed the episode a “shameful” one and called for appropriate action against the lawmakers concerned.

“Once they are penalised, no one will dare talk in that tone,” she said while talking to a private television channel.

“It’s shameful that they don’t know how to talk to a woman. Are they the elected representatives of people attending an assembly session or some goons?”

Ms Jahangir said the incident highlighted the mindset of the society and urged the federal ombudsman to take notice of the episode.

Courtesy : Dawn News

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