LAHORE – PML-N President and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday apologised for misogynist remarks made by his party leaders against female workers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
“We have to maintain decency and element of respect in political discourse,” wrote Shehbaz. “I apologise for anti-women remarks made by some party leaders.”
PMLN acknowledes and encourages the role of women in national politics. Any statement demeaning them is highly irresponsible. We have to maintain decency and element of respect in political discourse. I apologise for anti-women remarks made by some party leaders.
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) May 1, 2018
His apology comes in the wake of highly controversial statement by Rana Sanaullah said while reacting to the PTI’s April 29 Minar-e-Pakistan rally that “the women who attended the rally were not from honorable families because their dance moves implied where they had actually come from.”
Our women are our pride. They are more educated than most former Law Ministers & only come out for better future for their kids.
Calling out our women, tweet a picture/testimonial from a PTI Jalsa using hashtag #PTIForWomenEmpowerment & show Rana Sanaullah, you're not scared! pic.twitter.com/bfVG3FgsPa
— Tehreek-e-Insaf (@InsafPK) April 30, 2018
However, despite his party president being sorry over the sexist statements, the law minister refused to tender an unconditional apology.
In a video statement, Sanaullah said that he would only apologise if Imran Khan surrendered his BlackBerry phone over Ayesha Gulalai’s allegations.
He also attempted to clarify by saying that he issued “general comments” on the crowd who attended the PTI rallies on October 30 and April 29.
“I didn’t point out any specific male or female worker,” the law minister added.
Targeting the PTI chief over the sexual harassment allegations leveled by disgruntled MNA Ayesha Gulalai, the minister questioned: “Didn’t Imran Khan sexually harass her through messages? Didn’t he target a specific female worker.”
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Murad Raas earlier today had submitted a resolution in the Punjab Assembly condemning provincial Sanaullah’s remarks. The resolution called for Sanaullah’s immediate dismissal from the Law Ministry and demanded an apology over his ‘derogatory’ remarks towards female participants of Sunday’s rally in Lahore.
Sanaullah is not the only Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader who has been criticised for his misogynist remarks.
Federal Minister Tallal Chaudhry, at a separate press conference, had said: “We don’t ask whose house you [Imran Khan] stay at when you visit London. It is another matter altogether what you do over there. When it comes to your wife, she remains veiled, but our mothers and sisters are for display?”
A third PML-N leader, Abid Sher Ali, who is the state minister for power, also issued derogatory remarks against PTI’s chief whip Shireen Mazari while addressing a public gathering on Sunday night, saying that while she was protesting against Finance Minister Miftah Ismail’s budget speech in the National Assembly, she had said: “Don’t touch me.”
“What is there to touch?” he asked a crowd in Punjabi, in what can be described as an attempt to make a lewd joke.
After the comments sparked backlash against the PML-N leaders, Punjab Government Spokesperson Malik Ahmed Khan condemned the remarks.
“Be it Abid Sher Ali, Rana Sanaullah, Tallal Chaudhry or Imran Khan, I cannot tolerate this as these women are our mothers, sisters and daughters,” Malik said.
“What Rana Sanaullah said was wrong. I condemn that. He should not have said it. What Tallal said was wrong. I condemn that. He should not have said it,” the spokesperson said while speaking to senior journalist Javed Chaudhry on Express News talk show, Kal Tak, last night.
“Irrespective of their political affiliation, [such derogatory language] should not be used against those mothers and sisters who come forward to take part in the political process,” he said.
Despite his condemnation, however, Malik Ahmed Khan shifted blame for the PML-N leaders’ diatribes onto PTI Chairman Imran Khan, saying that the language they used was not the culture of the party, but had been introduced by Khan.
In the past, disqualified former foreign minister Khawaja Asif had called PTI’s Mazari a tractor trolley on the floor of the National Assembly, and had described Firdous Ashiq Awan as a “newly acquired dumper” when she switched her loyalties to PTI.