Pakistani society is given to appalling outbreaks of poor behaviour – even violence – between ordinary individuals who cannot handle disagreements. But it becomes all the more ugly when it is taken to the domain of public officials and politicians. Incidents of misbehaviour between politicians on talk shows and elsewhere have done the rounds as viral clips on social media for more than a decade now.
The current ruling party is very much a part of the problem. In fact, PM Imran Khan has around him a number of individuals who seem to behave quite badly when enraged.
Special Assistant to the PM on Political Affairs, Naeem-ul-Haque, achieved special notoriety when he slapped the PML-N’s Daniyal Aziz on a TV programme. In fact, the PTI stalwart even went on to openly claim that Imran Khan had praised his action.
Regardless of where the PM stands on such behaviour, the fact remains that appalling comments are the norm with many in the ruling party – from Faisal Vawda’s public calls for mass murder to Zartaj Gul Wazir’s shockingly ill-considered statements.
Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry has been in two widely publicized brawls by now. Both incidents involved TV anchors who are far from sworn opponents of the ruling party’s worldview and politics. The first instance was with Sami Ibrahim. And the most recent one appears to be with Mubashir Luqman.
The latest physical clash appears to have been precipitated by a dispute over the very explosive issue of TikTok sensation Hareem Shah and her video leaks involving members of the ruling party.
Even though there may be very real provocations from the individuals that he clashes with, the science minister will have to come to the realization that such incidents do little to promote the cause of his party. And they simply do not behoove an individual such as Chaudhry, who is widely followed by young people and who, in his stint as Information and Broadcasting Minister, made known his desire to work for the betterment of Pakistani media and journalists.
TV anchors and members of the public will also have to learn to restrain their more excitable side when coming face-to-face with public figures. A politician at a public or private event should not be seen as “fair game” to be ridiculed or attacked. Humiliation or provocation in public does little to further the cause of free expression or debate in Pakistan.