Dear Mazari and co, don’t gang up on Gulalai

Dear Mazari and co, don’t gang up on Gulalai

A group of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) women lawmakers headed by Shireen Mazari categorically rejected the accusations leveled by party’s former lawmaker Ayesha Gulalai against chief Imran Khan and other leaders. Mazari went as far as terming Gulalai’s statement as a politically charged move.

This group of women claimed Gulalai lied and made up the accusations against the PTI leadership for mistreating women politicians. Mazari did this by personally vouching for how she is treated by the party. What she doesn’t realise is: Just because she is treated with respect in the part does not automatically mean Gulalai is lying. Mazari and her fellow PTI women should have stood by Gulalai and called for an inquiry instead of just ganging up against her.

They should understand that while they can speak for themselves, they certainly cannot speak for all the women and men for that matter in the party. How does Imran Khan and other members of the party treating them nicely automatically means they haven’t mistreated Gulalai? Vouching for leadership’s character is one thing but launching a smear campaign against the woman who has come forward presents a completely different picture.

Can they really dismiss someone who’s come forth and stood up against mistreatment like that? Do they not understand Gulalai has been on the receiving end of the abuse? The least they should have done is call for an investigation and show support to Gulalai.

What are men saying about this? We have a video circulating on social media where Imran Khan said allegedly about former party member Naz Baloch “good that she has left, [she] was of no use”. And then there’s his lawyer Naeem Bukhari who on national TV tonight made fun of Gulalai saying “I don’t think I even know who Gulalai is” and then went on to say even though first gaze is allowed in Islam he doesn’t “check out” all women. This is after he defended Imran Khan in usual rhetoric saying “everything about Imran is moral” and went on to say that “woman have stopped giving birth to individuals like Imran Khan” implying there never will be a more “moral” person than Imran. All this happened while the anchorperson Kamran Shahid giggled along and just like that, these men showed everything that is wrong in society that doesn’t allow women to have equal chance.

In a country like ours where the gender gap is staggering especially in political circles, this is a very bad example to set. Women generally have to work twice as hard to compete with their male counterparts all the while facing harassment, intimidation and abuse.

This is beyond any political divide. This is not about Imran Khan versus the opponents. This is not about who’s conspiring against whom. This is about standing up with your colleagues. It already takes guts to stand up to bullying, harassment and mistreatment and when someone is taking that stand, they deserve complete support and solidarity.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s stance on the issue is spot on and deserves some heed regardless of political differences. There should be a complete inquiry both intra-party and by law enforcement. Not only should the findings be made public but those responsible should be punished aptly.

Meanwhile, the Mazari and co. should stop their blame-the-victim kind of counter attack on Gulalai.