Mar 10, 2008 - Uncategorized    2 Comments

Another one bites the dust

Another women’s day had passed. I was invited to four different events that day, but I chose the one organized by Goethe Institut and Oxford University Press. It was the launch of a book that was the effort of young Pakistani writers. A year ago, young writers’ competition was launched, 600 stories were submitted and only twelve were chosen to be part of the book titled, “Voices & Visions.”

The reason I chose this event was simple; I wanted to avoid the rhetoric that abounds on International Women’s Day. I thought there would be young people talking about literature and philosophy. Sadly, it did not turn out to be like that. There were customary speeches, a few reading by young writers (quite unimpressive, I am afraid) and then came the chief guest Justice (r) Nasira Iqbal and ruined it all.

Before I go any further, let me introduce her. Justice Iqbal is wife of Justice Javed Iqbal and daughter-in-law of Dr. Muhammed Iqbal a.ka. Allama Iqbal. Before this moot, I thought very highly of her, not only for being a woman judge in Punjab High Court but also for continuing education till late in life. She finished off her LLM in her fifties from HarvardLawSchool (Studying in HarvardLawSchool is tough even when one is in their twenties and thirties, but it is a lot more arduous for a woman in her fifties). On March 8th event, she did not talk about either women’s movement (of lack thereof) in Pakistan or the young writers or writing in general. She hijacked the forum and went on and on about the restoration of judiciary, Justice Iftekhar and lawyers movement. In addition, she blithely assumed that every person present is part of the lawyers movement and asked us all to wear a black armband.

Honestly, she lost me after the first 4 sentences and my friend Zeenia and I started talking about how people do not accord the basic courtesy to the spirit of event and hijack it, even Harvard grad retired judges. When she was unable to do justice to her role as the chief guest, what do we expect from her and the movement that is being run by people like her? In my opinion, lawyers too would turn into a ‘bull in the china shop’ like Pakistani media already has. Pakistani media believes that it is above and beyond law and regulation and anything against them is against the freedom of speech. Lawyers would follow suit and don’t even get me started on parliamentarians. Between Zardari and Nawaz Shariff, it has already been decided that no parliamentarians would be tried for corruption. That would leave people like us who have no recourse but stay put, leave the country or die in silence.

I only wished that someone switched her mike off, but was reminded by my friend that it happen only in the assembly and that too when members from opposition speak. I suffered the indignity of her speech in silence (rolling eyes does not count) and left.

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  • Please don’t tell us you didn’t know what goes at such events; talkers abound. The beauty of democracy is that the Media, Lawyers and Parliamentarians will soon collide. And more good will come from that. The worst democracy is better than the best dictatorship, remember?

  • aww… the only thing i could digest and thus remember from this post was Zeenia and I…

    and thats the closest i can come to say i missed being there which is the closest i can come to say i miss hanging out with u which is the closest.. u get the idea?

    A day for women… Bahh!! thats Gender discrimination at its peak! :s

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