19 Mar, 2021

As unsurprising as Pakistan's politics may be at times, nothing beats Aamir Liaquat's predictability for cracking crass and downright rude jokes

Here's what happened earlier this week: The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) had to postpone its long march, which was planned for later this month to topple the PTI-led government, after cracks within the ranks of the 10-party opposition alliance — including the Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-N — became visible.

Here's the 'joke' Aamir Liaquat shared on social media: The only way to topple the PTI government would be to falsely accuse a party leader of sexual harassment.

The MNA — let us spell this out for you since we still find it hard to wrap our minds around it sometimes: member of the National Assembly — of the ruling party thought it would be funny(?) to share a picture of Bollywood baddie Amrish Puri with this 'quip': "There is only one scenario in which PPP can topple the government and that is if [PPP chairperson] Bilawal tears his clothes and accuses Sheikh Rasheed [PTI minister] of sexual harassment."

Any normal human being with a semblance of decency would know this is not funny, and it is most definitely not a joke to be shared with more than a million followers.

But we'll break it down anyway: you cannot trivialise rape and sexual harassment. No, not even if "it's just a joke about how badly you lost at a game" or to use it as a verb for a political party's horrible performance in an area.

And this meme — if you can even call it that — not only belittles harassment but also perpetuates the problematic thinking that victims 'cry harassment' when there is no other option left to achieve a goal. There is enough scrutiny and doubtful questions raised when a victim of assault, regardless of gender, comes forward. How then does this lawmaker think it is okay to take a jibe at his political opponents at the expense of those who are already vulnerable?

Is there anyone within the PTI or in Aamir Liaquat's life who has sat him down and explained — really explained — why so much of his rhetoric is extremely problematic? If not for his personal growth, then do it at least for how poorly this reflects on the Imran Khan-led political party.

If they need help addressing some topics, how about casual sexism or how not to make jokes about the deceased?

There are plenty of others who have called him out but we doubt their words will have any impact on this learned public figure.

Only less than a month, Aamir Liaquat was embroiled in a controversy over something he said; the PTI MNA from Karachi was severely criticised after he used the image of a Hindu deity to mock PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz.

The TV host shared the screenshot of a news channel that quoted Maryam as saying: "They (government) will now see a second version of me." He accompanied her quote with the image of a Hindu deity, likening it to Maryam's "second version (dusra roop)".

A large number of politicians and netizens had condemned the lawmaker's post, which he deleted the next day followed by an apology. This wasn't his first apology.

Here's what Aamir Liaquat and those who have given him space in the parliament need to hear: an apology for a repeated offence stops holding any meaning whatsoever. And Aamir Liaquat is a repeat offender.