“Why did you clap?” he demanded from a confused audience before accusing the participant of insulting Jinnah.
“Why did you clap?” he demanded from a confused audience before accusing the participant of insulting Jinnah.

We have learned to expect an endless array of melodramatic, cringeworthy moments on most Ramazan transmissions. However, the latest bout of jingoism from Sahir Lodhi was a vision none of our eyes were prepared for.

Dr Saba Rizwan, a recent participant on Sahir Lodhi’s show, was required to speak against a certain topic. From the podium, she delivered an impassioned speech concerning women’s issues in Pakistan, ranging from harassment to honour killing.

Lodhi listened to the speech attentively with an unmistakable look of seething antipathy. One may easily interpret this as the expression of a predator waiting to pounce on its prey at an opportune moment, giving the audience a fair sense of what might happen at the end well before it actually happened.

Dr. Rizwan spoke eloquently about the injustices women commonly face in Pakistan, eventually reaching to a point where she rhetorically called upon Jinnah to witness the dire state of his nation.

"Come Quaid-e-Azam, look at your Pakistan," she said.

At that point, Mr. Lodhi interrupted the speech, and launched an embarrassingly boisterous, utterly irrelevant, and probably scripted monologue about Jinnah’s greatness.

Lodhi began by chiding the audience for clapping at Rizwan’s speech reference to the Quaid. “Why did you clap?” he demanded from a confused audience, before accusing the participant of insulting Jinnah.

With the explosive energy of Sunny Deol in a courtroom scene, Sahir Lodhi broke off into a dramatic speech about the speaker’s audacity to criticize Jinnah, and the audience’s temerity to applaud said criticism.

"Who dares to call out the man who gave us Pakistan? [...] If we don't make queues, we're responsible for that. Will we blame Quaid-e-Azam for it? If we give bribes, we're responsible for that. Will we blame Quaid-e-Azam for it? Brothers killing brothers, we do it. Will we blame Quaid-e-Azam for it? [...] How long will we keeping blaming the Quaid for our shortcomings? Are we that ungrateful? So think before you clap."

It is unlikely that Mr. Lodhi simply failed to comprehend the point of Rizwan’s poetic speech. She was not insulting Jinnah or 'blaming' him, but simply making an obvious point about our nation’s tragic departure from what is widely believed to be Jinnah’s own vision of Pakistan. Jinnah wanted us to be more than what we are at present - an understandable and uncontroversial sentiment.

The eyesore of an incident, at the intersection of misogyny and jingoism, ended with the male host talking paternalistically to four women participants standing quietly in line; referring to them repeatedly as ‘kids’, and tutoring them on the need to stay positive and respect our country.

The participants understood it. The audience understood it. The bouquet of fake flowers in the background understood it. It is highly improbably that Mr. Lodhi didn’t get it, but that did not keep him from indulging in some old-fashioned, patriotic point-scoring, in which he regurgitated praise-worthy facts about Jinnah straight from a Pak Studies textbook.

Dr. Saba Rizwan seemed mortified by the turn of events, though it is unclear whether she felt embarrassed for herself, or for Mr. Lodhi and his melodramatic address. Nevertheless, she stood silently, and endured this undeserved insolence with grace. I do not know for certain if the outburst was scripted or if the participant had prior knowledge of this nauseating performance heading her way, but she appeared acutely uncomfortable.

The elderly professor at the panel, building up on Lodhi’s pseudo-patriotic energy, also criticized the woman participant for “insulting” Jinnah in an otherwise admirable speech.

The eyesore of an incident, at the intersection of misogyny and jingoism, ended with the male host talking paternalistically to four women participants standing quietly in line; referring to them repeatedly as ‘kids’, and tutoring them on the need to stay positive and respect our country.

To sum up, we witnessed a jingoistic male host tone-policing female participants on live television, treating an articulate medical doctor like a 9-year old girl with behavioral problems, and scolding her for a sin she hadn’t committed. A more poignant image of the unenviable state of women in our country, could not have been captured on tape.

Why can a woman not speak for two and a half minutes about women’s issues without a brick of male opinion crashing through her window to address the “more important” stuff? No amount of irrelevant, melodramatic Jinnah-mongering conceals the blunt sexism in this video. It was a transparent, self-serving retort to someone who had never contested the greatness of Quaid-e-Azam in the first place.

Why do we always insist on invoking nationalism, security, religion, and class politics whenever it’s a woman’s turn at the microphone? Why can’t a female student from BNU talk about period-shaming without being accused of undermining class struggles? Why can a woman not speak for two and a half minutes about women’s issues without a brick of male opinion crashing through her window to address the “more important” stuff?

No amount of irrelevant, melodramatic Jinnah-mongering conceals the blunt sexism in this video. It was a transparent, self-serving retort to someone who had never contested the greatness of Quaid-e-Azam in the first place.

Patriotism isn’t simply about cracking a coconut at the altar of a national hero. It’s about caring for the welfare of the people of your country; the same people that Sahir Lodhi may attempt to silence instead.

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