Next time you're faced with casual sexism, be a Miftah Ismail

Next time you're faced with casual sexism, be a Miftah Ismail

It's hard enough being a female politician in Pakistan without sexism from your colleagues.
26 Feb, 2021

We're firm believers in calling politicians out when they do something wrong. But we also like highlighting when they do something right, and PML-N leader Miftah Ismail just did something very right.

Ismail, who is a former finance minister, appeared on Geo TV show Jashan e Cricket on February 25, which is hosted by Shahzad Iqbal.Presumably, the show is about cricket and the PSL but Ismail was asked about politics too. He was also asked to choose who's better dressed, Marriyum Aurangzeb or Hina Pervez Butt.

Aurangzeb is the PML-N spokesperson while Butt is a sitting Punjab MPA.

To give some context to their conversation, Iqbal had been asking Ismail to choose between two people for random questions. Who's the better cricketer, Imran Khan or Nawaz Sharif (Imran Khan and he's more handsome too, answered Ismail), who would you choose if you had to kick someone off a plane, Maryam Nawaz or Shehbaz Sharif ("Shehbaz since he's in jail and won't hear this"). But when it came to Aurangzeb and Butt, the host asked who is better dressed.

“Look, it’s hard enough to be a woman in politics in Pakistan. Why don’t you ask me who’s better dressed: Ahsan Iqbal or Shahid Khaqan Abbasi," replied Ismail. And we're not sure if it's because the bar is so terribly low, but his reply left us stunned. A Pakistani male politician standing up against casual sexism and switching the topic to men instead? Cue the shocked applause.

The previous questions were about capabilities (Imran Khan versus Nawaz Sharif) or random uncontrollable situations (Maryam Nawaz versus Shehbaz Sharif) but for some reason, when it came to Aurangzeb and Butt, the question was about their clothes. I suppose we should be grateful he wasn't asked who's prettier.

But Ismail sidestepped the sexist question and turned it on him. And he's right. Why didn't the host ask him to choose between two male politicians and their sense of style? To begin with, style is personal and subjective. And of all the questions he could have asked when comparing the two politicians, he chose their sense of style.

To all the men reading this, take note. This is how you can be an ally. Don't go along with sexist jokes, call them out and turn the tables. Ismail turned the question on the host and instead started discussing Abbasi and Iqbal's clothes. He even gave an explanation for why he chose Iqbal as the better dressed man: when he was in jail, he woke up every morning and wore a suit and tie.

"He’s a better dressed man than Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, but then everyone is a better dressed man than Shahid Abbasi," he laughed. The former premier was the butt of many jokes after he attended the UN General Assembly in 2017 and didn't wear a tie.

"I went to school in California. So in California, they said you only wear a tie on the day you get married or [on the day] you die," Abbasi had said at the time.

Ismail just showed the country, and all his fellow politicians, that you don't need to be sexist to be funny, nor do you need to answer sexist and frankly stupid questions, even when pressed. From now on, when you're faced with casual sexism, we're going to call on you to be a Miftah Ismaill.


Shuaib Feb 26, 2021 06:14pm
Miftah Ismail is a great personality, great mind. PMLN is blessed to have people like him
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Sarah Feb 26, 2021 06:40pm
If that is sexism to you, you have no clue what sexism really is.
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shahid Feb 26, 2021 06:52pm
Miftah is a pleasant entry into pak politics...
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NYS Feb 26, 2021 07:09pm
No comment !!
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Ibrahim S Feb 26, 2021 07:13pm
I can’t agree more, sexism and the jokes around it should be dealt seriously .
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M. Saeed Feb 26, 2021 07:26pm
Shows the maturity and wisdom of a person in such a tight situation.
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Tuk Feb 26, 2021 07:49pm
Good for lauding Miftah but should have condemned the host who asked the inappropriate question.
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Nadeem Hassan Feb 26, 2021 08:19pm
Always admired him as a human being. You can just tell that he is not from the same lot.
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HonorBright Feb 26, 2021 09:23pm
That's subtle for a rough beginner like me but i am trying to absorb it: women are more than their dress and looks, is it the right moral of the news? and on second thoughts, why discuss someone's appearance at all? whether men or women
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Zia Iqbal Feb 26, 2021 09:33pm
One of the best written article on Sexism.......... We all need to a Miftah Ismail whenever we face a sexist question. Can't be agreed more, and my salute to the unknown writer.
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Chrís Dăn Feb 26, 2021 10:03pm
Why this over-consciousness about sexism? No one talks this stuff about Mrs.Merkel or Mrs.Ursula as they wear clothes symoblizing only business elegence-the life which they spend. The best politician in East is /was one-Nrs.Golda Mayor- who transformed Israel into a solid country. Today I do not remember what she wore but I know what she did and what a great leader was she.
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Sid Feb 26, 2021 10:04pm
Kick out Shariffs from PMLN and make Miftah the head of the party...
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Haris Feb 26, 2021 10:21pm
Is this worth of a news? May be a Page 3 topic.
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HashBrown® Feb 26, 2021 10:21pm
"To all the men reading this, take note." And this is how to ruin a perfectly good article, by being sanctimonious and condescending. I would never dare telling all women to "take note" - in fact I wouldn't make such silly generalisations of any specific demographic in the first place. I get that you're trying to be "woke", but you're actually just coming across as tone deaf.
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Haris Feb 26, 2021 10:22pm
@Ibrahim S. Define sexism first.
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Khan White Feb 26, 2021 10:37pm
Applause! IK always talked about morality and accountability, referencing the west as a yardstick. Recently ex PM of Japan resigned for sexist comments. Few days ago Showbiz Gill made some vile rationalisations on a TV show, he positioned his wife to be argumentative and who unreasonably ‘shrieks’ often. This reference was made for the anchor, suggesting him to be like Gills 2nd wife! Wonder if we should expect a morality based resignation? ala Japan and pre election promises?
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Tehmeena Feb 26, 2021 11:24pm
Lesson : you are allowed to choose among male colleagues but when it comes to choosing between females, avoid question altogether PS: it is PML-N that has the honour of character assassinating Benazir Bhutto and making aggressive politics part of the culture
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Kaleem Feb 27, 2021 12:11am
Since when good dressing has become casual sexism? Dressing is how you look, period.
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Parvez Feb 27, 2021 12:22am
Fast thinking....well done Fiftagh Ismail.
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Ibrahim S Feb 27, 2021 12:36am
@Haris here you go: “prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.” "sexism in language is an offensive reminder of the way the culture sees women"
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secular Feb 27, 2021 12:41am
respect from India
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waleed Feb 27, 2021 01:48am
nothing wrong with asking who is better dressed, it has nothing to do with sexism.. sexism is when you are targeted just being woman..
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Salman Feb 27, 2021 04:56am
Is 'to all men reading this, take note' sexist too?
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truth Feb 27, 2021 07:03am
Well done Ismail Sahib... a cultured man
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Arshad Javed Sandal Feb 27, 2021 10:36am
Senseless questions to a sensible person.
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