6 times Pakistani politicians insulted the women they work with

6 times Pakistani politicians insulted the women they work with

The National Assembly is rife with instances of disrespect towards women
Updated 13 Apr, 2017

Name-calling and fist fights are not uncommon when opposing politicians get together. But a fracas in the National Assembly on Thursday underscored a disturbing trend.

During the address of Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq asked women lawmakers to be silent or go outside and continue their conversation during house proceedings.

Shah responded: "Do not ask these women to stop talking, Speaker, they will fall ill if they don't talk continuously."

Following Shah's remarks, PPP MNA Nafisa Shah said she would stage a protest, asking why the speaker was only silencing women if men are also talking. The speaker silenced her again, saying, "You cannot challenge the chair."

Last month, during a press conference after an argument in another National Assembly session, PML-N's Javed Latif is reported to have passed distasteful remarks about PTI lawmaker Murad Saeed's sisters in connection with PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

His comments invited censure from all quarters, so much so that his name was soon trending on Twitter.

However, these haven't been the only time women were disrespected at National Assembly.

Here's a list:

1) The times Benazir Bhutto was called names for her bright clothes

According to veteran journalist Nusrat Javeed, Sheikh Rashid was one of the first politicians to be observed passing derogatory remarks to his female peers.

“Benazir Bhutto was wearing a Pakistani green shirt and white shalwar. When she walked in, he quipped ‘You look like a veritable parrot’, which did not go down well with Ms Bhutto at all and caused a ruckus in the house,” he recalled in a conversation with Dawn.

Sheikh Rashid commented on Bhutto's appearance a second time when she attended a NA session in a yellow suit, “She was on her way out just as Sheikh Rashid rose in his seat, and he protested her exit during his speech by calling her a name which is considered very derogatory on the streets of Rawalpindi.”

“The governor of Punjab was supposed to meet with Ms Bhutto later that day and legend has it that when she went to see him, her eyes were red. That was the same night Sheikh Rashid was booked in a terrorism case for possessing illegal weapons. The rest, as they say, is history.”

We wish we could disregard Sheikh Rashid as one bad egg, but that's not the case...

2) When an inappropriate comment was hurled at Begum Zahid Khaleequzaman

When Begum Zahid Khaleequzaman was minister for railways, Nusrat Javeed recalls her commenting on her work load thus: "I have so much work that I have one foot in Karachi and the other in Rawalpindi’."

"At this, someone from the backbenches had shouted ‘The people of Rahim Yar Khan must be enjoying themselves’."

3) When Khawaja Asif called Begum Mehnaz Rafi a "penguin"

Before he infamously referred to PTI whip Shireen Mazari as a "tractor trolley" (more on that below), Defence Minister Khawaja Asif is reported to have called PML-Q's Begum Mehnaz Rafi a "penguin" in reference to her limp.

4) When Khawaja Asif called Shireen Mazari a 'tractor trolley'

At a National Assembly session in June 2016, Khawaja Asif was giving a speech on loadshedding in Ramzan when PTI led by MNA Shireen Mazari protested against against some points he made.

Incensed by the interruption, Asif launched a tirade against Mazari, saying "Someone make this tractor trolley keep quiet."

"Make her voice more feminine," he said, according to eyewitnesses. Another lawmaker chimed in from the government benches to say "Keep quiet, aunty."

Talk about not being able to handle criticism.

5) When JUI-F senator Hafiz Hamdullah threatened Marvi Sirmed on TV

JUI-F Senator Hafiz Hamdullah hurled threats at analyst Marvi Sirmed during a TV talk show.

Although the threats were never televised, Sirmed revealed in a Facebook post that Hamdullah had swore at her and threatened to "take off her and her mother's shalwar". He also tried to beat her, she said in her Facebook post:

Although there was widespread condemnation for Hamdullah's attack, he suffered no real consequences for it — a reality that allows for such abuse to occur in the first place.

6) When Sheikh Aftab asked Shireen Mazari if she wanted strip searches at airports

When Shireen Mazari pressed State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab on the security standards at the Islamabad airport, he said, "In airports abroad, they also strip-search you. Is that the international standard she wants,” he responded, to peals of approving laughter from the treasury benches.

The presence of vocal women with strong opinions tends to unsettle a lot of men, and from the six instances above, it's apparent that our male politicians are no exception. The fact that some are repeat offenders show that their misdemeanours in Parliament are going unchecked. While they are occasionally censured, they suffer no real consequences for it — a reality that allows for such abuse to occur in the first place.

Asma Jahangir, a former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and noted human rights activist, expressed similar views. She termed the Javed Latif 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?”


HaMAAD Mar 10, 2017 07:48pm
Shame on all the men who disrespect women in this manner.
Fawad Mar 10, 2017 08:12pm
They are elected representative, so I they represent the mindset of people.
Saeeds Mar 10, 2017 10:21pm
Why all the politician mention in the article are punished by people why they still in politics. Why people still respect them.
Ali Mar 10, 2017 11:33pm
This is how they were brought up, its law of nature who don't respect women of others they don't respect their own also.
M.Johri Mar 11, 2017 01:20am
@Ali You are so right . Some how this coverage should be shown to his family .(to all males and females including his parents and in laws) . I bet this man will not find a place to hide.
Saifuddin TAKHTAWALA Mar 11, 2017 01:53am
What else one can expect from these pseudo politians. The irony of fact they promulgate laws for our very nation.
ghaznavi Mar 11, 2017 01:58am
Sadly this is not limited to Pakistani politics. Women are targeted across the globe.
Mr. PRESIDENT Mar 11, 2017 03:41am
Not to be disrespectful but #2 was quite funny.
sultan durrani Mar 11, 2017 07:55am
Such shameless remarks against women are always made by one particular group of politicians of this country reflecting their dirty mentality, also known for their corruption as well..
Einstein babar Mar 11, 2017 11:44am
respect must not be gender based, it is not appropriate that a lady can insult but a man should not reply
Irfan Mar 11, 2017 11:58am
Recently Sindh minister Imdad Pitafi misbehaved with female MPA and asked her to come to his private chamber for 'explanation'. It took a suicide threat from Nusrat Sehr Abbasi for the minister to publically apologize and take his words back. If women MPAs have to take such extreme measures to highlight the misbehavior, imagine what a common woman has to go through to register her protest.
DJ Mar 11, 2017 01:00pm
So sorry but they represent majority of us.
sabeeh ahmad Mar 11, 2017 01:41pm
If you want to judge an employer, judge his employees first. Same is the case with a party leader. Different MNAs of PML N has gone after women calling them with names and degrading them. NS should have given a swere punishment to khawaja asif and others but he didn't. This clearly shows his thinking and approach.
Ghazna Mar 11, 2017 03:39pm
The level of respect and manners needs to improve in Pakistan .
AK Mar 11, 2017 05:14pm
Many at the helm of our society have had little exposure to decent and respectful behaviour. They do not understand that elections, wealth, power or education do not confer civility. Such people (and that includes all sections of our society) think that power gives them the right to do or say as they please. These people will only learn the hard way.
mushtaq mann Mar 11, 2017 08:04pm
' Es Tractor trolley nu chup karao'....... just find this so hilarious....
Zak Mar 12, 2017 12:19am
By insulting women, these men have violated the constitution, Islam where respect to women is paramount. And upset civil society as leaders do not behave as such. These people should not be in parliament and do not represent pakistan.
razia Mar 12, 2017 12:49am
Clearly male politicians in Pakistan are so in love and infatuated with their own voices they cannot bear it if a women should challenge or contradict them. When they feel threatened by a women's voice , they resort to swearing and making offensive remarks and being violent. This is unacceptable behaviour and must be punished if we are to develop into a civilised nation.
ali Mar 12, 2017 08:09am
please include disrespect of Fatima Jinnah by Ayub khan and khurram dastagir's father
whatacountry Mar 12, 2017 09:14am
Strangely there is no mention of a woman MNA of PML N who was equally distasteful in defending Javaid Latif. Her name was Shaheen something and she has vanished since . This was in an ARY programme hosted by Mr Abbassi.
whatacountry Mar 12, 2017 09:16am
@mushtaq mann you must come from the same stock as Asif Khawja!
thoughtpurification. Mar 12, 2017 12:25pm
Its our culture and had nothing to do with profession , Calling name and slur is common in daily living. Women are usually thought of as domestic or for recreational purposes. Just go on the street and one can hear dozen of remarks in a jiffy . Its what we are.
Khurram Mar 14, 2017 03:50pm
PML (N) has a long history of using deteriorating language. They are not only financially corrupt people but mentally too.
Khan - Viet Mar 15, 2017 05:06am
@sabeeh ahmad Those don't know : Kwaja Asif is very long time personal friends of NS: from exile days in Jeddah / shopping together for Camera in London - No wonder he enjoys Defense portfolio: Will Imran Khan do to J Tareen ? Zardari to Rehman Malik: ops Rehman Malik's son is a provincial minister in Sind Cabinet-- even though Murad Ali Shah seems to be a polite gentleman with ethics and education: reflections of his family upbringing? Or Canadaian Education- perhaps both!
Mudassir Mar 15, 2017 10:04am
Hanif Abbasi used very shameful language against kishmala tariq