Of foul mouths

No country for women

The political class represents the best and worst that a country has to offer. That latter bit implies that it is also going to include quite the gallery of rogues. At corner meetings, at mini-rallies, even at larger conventions, or perhaps even the odd television program, a politician or two from the student wing, a trade wing, or a third or second-tier leader might make an unsavoury comment.

No political party should have any delusions of pristine morality about their conduct. All political parties, specially in the age of social media, where a party’s accountable signalling done by its members, as opposed to the unaccountable signalling done by its supporters, is getting more and more blurred, are guilty of inappropriate behaviour.

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But in the case of Imran Khan, certain lines seem to have begun being crossed. He is the party chair himself, not merely an important leader. And though zingers and barbs targeting rival parties can (perhaps should?) fly at rallies, the PTI chairman has started sexualising his female political opponents. We are not talking about sexist slurs, but sexual slurs. The former was his once disparagingly calling Maryam Nawaz Sharif a grandmother (it could only be sexist and not ageist, because she is young enough to be his daughter.) No, in his rant at the rally in Multan the other day, he directed sexual slurs at her. The sort of passion with which she takes my name, he said, speaking of Maryam Nawaz, would make her husband jealous.

Now, one does not wish to psychoanalyse in this space the fantasies of an aged man. Even if he were his other bête noire, Bilawal Zardari’s age, the fact of the matter is that such crass language is just not on. He is the leader of a major political party. The followers of his party, specially the younger members, look up to him and hang on to every word of his. It gives them the impression that such crass language is not only allowed, but also encouraged. The huge applause after his joke proved as much.

Our leaders need to do better.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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