Bullies; we have all heard of them at some point in our lives, the more unfortunate ones amongst us have faced the wrath of bullies at no provocation at all. However, very few of us stand up to them. In fact people who get bullied often lash out at their well wishers who either point out the fact that they are being bullied or tell them to give it back to their bullies.
Something similar happened with Najam Sethi on the eve of February 7th. In his TV show, Najam Sethi ran a clip of Maulana Fazlur Rehman alluding that Imran Khan of PTI is politicking at the behest of some nameless and faceless Jews. He also ran a clip of Mr. Imran Khan saying that Maulana Fazlur Rehman is one of the three people who are responsible for the mess the country is in. Sethi later on said that Imran Khan should have been more vocal in his defense and should have denounced Maulana more vociferously than he did because Maulana will not let go of Imran Khan’s Jewish connection (Khan’s ex-wife and mother of his children is of Jewish, Catholic & Protestant heritage) and will use it again and again during the elections later this year.
Jemima Khan, Khan’s ex-wife, heard the words “Imran Khan, Jewish lobby, conspiracy” and without actually watching the programme or asking anyone with a better grasp of Urdu, jumped to the conclusion that it was Najam Sethi who was stirring up trouble for Khan. She was never considered particularly bright by anyone of note, and now even less so when she took to the microblogging website, Twitter, to start a personal attack on Najam Sethi (She wrote that Mr Sethi has always been critical of Imran Khan except when his wife and Mr Sethi wanted an invitation to dinner with late Princess Diana) perhaps undermining the credibility of Mr. Sethi as a journalist.
What followed that was just as crazy as any other war of words on social media is, but it is significant in revealing that politics based on religion is not just here and now, it is flourishing with every passing day. No one is willing to take on this issue head-on, instead they either try to shoot the messenger – in this case Najam Sethi – or join forces with the forces spreading vitriolic hatred against the other. It was Maulana Fazlur Rehman who first spoke about Khan’s Jewish connection but it was Sethi – an easier target who can perhaps only retaliate with arguments instead of something more sinister or dangerous – who got burned for just pointing his fingers to the bully in question.
Some really charged up PTI member even started an online campaign for Sethi to be removed from the air for “making some immoral remarks about Imran Khan’s ex-wife Jemima Khan.” The fact that the campaign has received 631 signatures as yet tells us a lot about how people form opinions – divorced from reason, nuance, logic – and choose their candidate based on that very opinion come election time.
In past, Imran Khan has been roughed up by the goons of Islami Jamiat Talaba in Punjab University but we have not heard such vehement condemnation for them, either because of political expediency or because of the fact that PTI was afraid of a repeat performance. Whatever the reason is, no one is calling out the real bullies who are getting away with all kinds of transgressions.
An edited version was first published in The Express Tribune
PS: I guess Jemima Khan is quite fond of picking up fights with random people on twitter, sometimes they are famous journalists like Najam Sethi, sometimes they are nobodies like me. Hereis an account of Jemima Bibi calling me names for questioning if hers is the real account before she got verified.