KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan landed in hot water on Wednesday after he passed what was considered a ‘misogynist’ remark about Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at a public gathering in South Waziristan.

“Unlike Bilawal Sahiba, I didn’t come into politics through a chit like the last will of his mother [slain PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto] that gave him the political party in inheritance,” said the prime minister.

Minutes after the premier’s speech was aired, social media users from different walks of life, including Mr Bhutto-Zardari himself, called out the prime minister for his misogynist statement.

Taking a dig at the prime minister, the PPP chairman referenced an old remark made by Prime Minister Khan and tweeted: “What was that about small men in big offices? #PMSelect.”

Last year, PM Khan took to Twitter to express his disappointment over a negative response by India to his call for resumption of the peace dialogue.

“However, all my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture,” he wrote, making a jibe at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Poor and misogynist statement by PM against @BBhuttoZardari calling him sahiba . We don’t expect this kind of language from anyone and off course PM,” regretted journalist Asma Shirazi.

Responding to Ms Shirazi’s tweet, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Maryam Nawaz wrote that the premier’s remarks were “absolutely disgusting and odious”.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif wrote: “This is beyond words. It’s Shameful. Unbecoming. Reprehensible. The selected PM is clearly unfit for the job. Sad day for Pakistan!”

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman called out the prime minister for “touching pathetic new lows. One Tabdeeli at a Time”.

Earlier this week, Mr Bhutto-Zardari had called out Mr Khan over an embarrassing gaffe from the premier’s two-day official tour to Iran. “Our Prime Minister thinks that Germany and Japan share a border. How embarrassing, this is what happens when you @UniofOxford let people in just because they can play cricket,” the PPP chairman had tweeted.

Prime Minister Khan, however, is not the only politician who has invited censure for casual misogyny.

At a National Assembly session in June 2016, PML-N leader Khawaja Asif was giving a speech on load-shedding in Ramazan when Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf MNA Shireen Mazari protested against some points he had made.

Incensed by the interruption, Mr Asif launched a tirade against Ms Mazari, saying “someone make this tractor trolley keep quiet”. “Make her voice more feminine,” he had remarked.

In April 2017, during the address of then leader of the opposition Syed Khurshid Shah, NA speaker Ayaz Sadiq asked women lawmakers to be silent or go outside and continue their conversation during house proceedings. The PPP leader responded to Mr Sadiq, saying: “Do not ask these women to stop talking, Speaker, they will fall ill if they don’t talk continuously.”

Following Mr Shah’s remarks, PPP MNA Nafisa Shah said she would stage a protest, asking why the speaker was only silencing women if men are also talking. The speaker silenced her again, saying, “You cannot challenge the chair.”

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2019