ISLAMABAD: The televised spat between a Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl senator and a civil society activist took a new turn on Saturday, with women parliamentarians calling for action against the JUI-F lawmaker.

The electronic media watchdog, meanwhile, initiated action against the news channel that broadcast the show for ‘editorial irresponsibility’.

Marvi Sirmed filed an application against Hafiz Hamdullah with the Kohsar police station for accusing her of being an ‘immoral person’ and threatening to rape her, but no FIR had been registered until the filing of this report.

Talking to Dawn, Ms Sirmed said, “The recordings are available. I did not say anything [provocative], but he started yelling at me and even got up in his seat to threaten me.”

On the other hand, Senator Hamdullah declined to comment over his outburst, or the application filed against him with the police.

Insisting that his behaviour during the talk show was ‘justified’, he said, “I know these people — they are not speaking for themselves; they are speaking the language of the West and the Jews.”

The senator was adamant that his upbringing and education did not allow him to “reply in the same coin”.

“I do not want to speak about these people — there is no comparison between us. I am a member of the upper house and have a standing in society; they are unimportant characters,” he added.

The incident unfolded during the recording of a talk show on Friday night, where the growing incidence of women and girls being killed over matrimonial issues was under discussion.

During the recording, Senator Hamdullah and another guest, Barrister Masroor, got into a heated exchange over clerics’ inaction when women were burned by their relatives.

Barrister Masroor said that clerics should be criticising this trend in their Friday sermons.

“They are ready to talk about everything in the world, save for the killings in our own home,” he said, adding that it seemed like Maulana Sheerani -- the head of the Council of Islamic Ideology -- was in a drug-induced stupor.

His comments offended the senator no end and he took his revenge when Marvi Sirmed’s turn came. Interrupting her before she could make her point, Senator Hamdullah’s argument with Ms Sirmed soon spiralled out of control and eventually he had to leave the studio.

Taking notice of the situation, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) issued a notice to NewsOne — the channel that broadcast the show — stating that either the offending show should be cancelled, or the channel would have to pay Rs1 million fine. The channel was asked to respond by June 17.

Condemnation

The senator’s attitude drew widespread condemnation. PPP Senator Sherry Rehman tweeted: “His party should ask him to apologise in public. How does Constitution (he’s senator) or Islam permit this? No way.” She told Dawn the matter had been forwarded to Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani and he was likely to take it up on Monday.

In the National Assembly, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Dr Shireen Mazari drew the speaker’s attention towards the incident and urged him to do something to safeguard the prestige of women. Speaker Ayaz Sadiq said everyone should respect womenfolk, irrespective of their political affiliations.

The Women’s Parliamentary Caucus (WPC) also took serious notice of the incident and called upon the JUI-F leadership to immediately cancel the senator’s membership.

A statement by the caucus said that growing disrespect, intolerance and impertinence amongst men and women in the country was a matter of concern.

“The discussion was on an important issue of recent acts of honour killings,” PML-N MNA and WPC Secretary Shaista Pervaiz Malik said in a statement. “But [the] obnoxious behaviour and language used by the senator for a woman was deplorable and absolutely unacceptable,” the statement concluded.

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2016

Opinion

Editorial

Reforming militants
24 Jul, 2024

Reforming militants

Such initiatives have been tried before, in Swat for instance, at centres run by the military as well as NGOs.
IPP debate
24 Jul, 2024

IPP debate

A FIERCE debate blaming the exorbitant electricity prices on expensive power purchase agreements with IPPs has been...
Political vendettas
24 Jul, 2024

Political vendettas

IT seems that the PML-N and PPP need to be reminded again that they are doing themselves a considerable disservice ...
Security concerns
23 Jul, 2024

Security concerns

All stakeholders want what is best for the country and its people; their differing approaches shouldn’t be viewed with such suspicion all the time.
Frankfurt vandalism
23 Jul, 2024

Frankfurt vandalism

THE state needs to seek serious answers from the German authorities regarding the July 20 mob attack targeting...
Stressed cotton economy
23 Jul, 2024

Stressed cotton economy

DECREASING cotton production should be a worry for the government because of its socioeconomic implications. Early...