Daily Times Editorial 10 December 2020
These are not our trends
Media is not an indicator of the opening up of society. The sooner we shed this misconception the better. The trends that stick out with all their ugliness beg a question as to whether Twitter takes well to gender slurs in the first place. Political parties use social media as a proxy to attack their rivals across borders. Some time ago, Twitter detected a network of accounts trying to influence elections in India. Later, Facebook unearthed another network involved in whipping up hate speech targeting their rivals. The problem is when one network is taken down, another rises. It is systematic.
The controversial Twitter trends loaded with gender slurs have targeted Maryam Nawaz. After condemnation, there is a need to evaluate it objectively. Not so long ago, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif addressed his party workers. During the address, he pressed on the need to use social media and said that in the changing world no one can silence their rivals. His party has asserted itself on social media as his daughter Maryam Nawaz loves spending time with social media managers. She has also succeeded in convincing her father to run a Twitter account for direct contact with party workers. Both father and daughter are making inroads in this new field as the mainstream media has put restrictions on them due to the nature of cases they have been embroiled in. Though an inquiry will discover if the ruling PTI orchestrated this dirty trend or not, there is no doubt that the party leaders are known to target their rivals on the basis of gender. Even PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari could not escape indecent and immoral verbal attacks. Running a government is not a gender-specific job. A well-worked-out male can ruin it by making the wrong decisions and a physically weak woman can save a country by making the right decisions. Time was when the PML-N would target Benazir Bhutto on the basis of her gender. The party should behave rationally now as the burden of its own leadership has now fallen on a woman. This episode has shown one thing that such trends do not define us as a nation.
PDM’s resignation problem
There should be sincere efforts from all quarters concerned to bring the opposition and the governments to a dialogue table before things reach the point of no return. So far, the opposition is the part of parliament while the government is busy in its usual affairs. After the Pakistan Democratic Alliance (PDM) came up with a vague stance on resignation from assemblies, Prime Minister Imran Khan has shown his unshaken resolve that if the opposition resigns from parliament, the government will go ahead with by-elections on the vacant seats. A meeting of the PDM leadership has announced that their MPs will submit their resignation with their respective party heads, which is a symbolic move, lacking any substance and sense. Or in another way,the opposition alliance is undecided about quitting the parliament and lacks ensuing plans. On the other hand, the prime minister told a delegation of journalists at the Prime Minister’s House that the opposition’s focus was only on their leaders’ cases, while he was not ready to accord any concession on the corruption issue. There are reports that the treasury has approached the opposition for dialogues, which the other side has vehemently turned down. Deadlock persists.
Though the politics of resignation from parliament is an accepted norm in democracies the world over to bring down governments, this may, however, harm the continuity of assemblies in Pakistan and plunge Pakistan back to the 1980s and 1990s era when none of the five assemblies could complete their logical term from 1985 to 1999. Thanks to the Pakistan Peoples Party’s reconciliatory politics, which helped the first-ever democratic government complete its term in 2013. Not to forget, the PakistanTehreek-i-Insaf with Dr Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek gheraoed the parliament and even put up a botched effort to resign from the National Assembly. Those Days, every democratic force, including those now parts of the PDM, condemned the conspiracy to destabilize a democratically elected government. Similarly, dharna by cleric Khadim Husain Rizvi and Maulana Fazlur Rehman to topple the incumbent regime were looked down upon by pro-democracy forces. If those attempts were wrong, the PDM’s recent move to quit the assemblies followed by a long march on Islamabad is also wrong. The opposition may not be able to change the government but the agitation will create anarchy in the country. The better advice for the PDM is to fight their war within parliament and use constitutional means to change the government