Bytes for All arranged a country wide forum on social media initiatives by youth on regional peace and security and I moderated a session with Senior Vice Chairperson of Awami National Party and member national assembly Bushra Gohar on role of women parliamentarians and politicians in democratic processes.
Before I express my disappointment on the Caucus’ official song and Ms. Gohar’s rather poor defence of it, I must point out that I have great respect for Bushra Gohar as a person and a professional capable woman. Ms. Gohar wanted to talk about the Women Caucus in the parliament and she opened her presentation with this Tina Sani song prepared for the Caucus which basically cements the patriarchal notion that only a woman who is covered in a chador is virtuous and worthy of respect and can be the face of a Pakistani woman. The song lyrics go like this: Anchal ko parcham bana rahain hain, hum waqt ke mailay daman pe umeed ujalay jaga rahain hain(the director of the video was so incredibly smart that he showed a woman washing clothes during the words waqt ke mailay daman pe – someone kill me already). When I asked Ms Gohar about the contributions of women who do not abide by the chadorand chardeewari philosophy and do not really have the so called anchals, ghooghatsand what not to turn into parchams? Should they be excluded from the national narrative because they do not conform to the majority’s idea of what is considered appropriate for women? Bushra Gohar, much to my surprise, defended this song and said that that the song meant to convey the message of empowerment by turning women’s dupattas into national flag!!!
I know that no one knows there exist a song like this (the last I checked it had only 37 views on youtube and it was uploaded a good six months ago), no one actually cares about it and me fretting over it is kinda useless but I am sick and tired of being kept out of the national narrative because I am a woman who does not believe in chador and chardeewari. I live and work in Pakistan, I contribute to the economy and pay taxes which pays for the salaries of the police and army and the mostly useless executive but neither am I safe in this country, nor am I called the Qaum ki beti. Who is called Qaum ki beti? A woman named Aafia Siddiqui – an alleged terrorist whose legal defense fees is paid for by the very same taxes that I pay every year –and I am able to pay those taxes because I work and called a maghrabi aurat (westernized woman) who leaves the sanctity of her home everyday to go to work. You know what is most ironic? The so called Qaum ki beti has not even lived in this country for ages, she is a bloody US citizen.
I know it’s a silly song but I am tired of being relegated to sidelines because I am a woman and I make my own choices based on informed ideas rather than propaganda. I want my rightful space in the national narrative and I want it NOW!