Browsing "Waheeda Shah"

A slap — and then some

If you happen to live in Pakistan and have access to any kind of media, mainstream or otherwise, you would know the step by step details of Waheeda Shah’s slapping of a polling officer roughly two weeks ago. The commotion that followed the incident may be justified but if looked closely, every episode in this murky saga including the initial slap truly reflects the society we live in and is
nothing out of ordinary.


A well heeled feudal woman slapped a government servant to show her might. She did it because she knew that she can get away with it. Had that slap was not recorded by the television cameras in all its violent glory, she definitely would have gotten away with it – something that happens every day in this country.


The media rightly reported the incident as an act of violence and desecration of the election process but then went on to add dramatic music and some crafty edits to make it look like a case of repeated slaps. Our esteemed media turned a grave violation of law into a caricature which is quite the routine.


Pakistani police also stayed true to its character in this sorry tale. Waheeda Shah slapped the poling officer right in front of a senior police official – a DSP – who did nothing to stop the aggression of a powerful and connected feudal.


Under duress, an FIR was registered against Waheeda Shah, but instead of booking her for assault on another human being which carries harsher punishment, she was charged with ‘disorderly conduct at polling station’, an offence punishable with just three months imprisonment, a fine of Rs 1,000 or both.


When a PPP candidate is involved in shenanigans of the worst kind, how can Pakistani judicial activism be far behind? The Supreme Court of Pakistan also decides to jumps into the fray and takes suo moto notice against Ms. Shah because, let’s admit it,  her slap is the biggest issue threatening the core of the country. Incidents like genocide of Hazara Community  in Quetta and brutal killings of Shias in Kohistan do not merit the same response. Just like the country it represents, the apex court has its priorities straight.


Some women rights activists on social media  criticized Supreme Court’s decision to take suo moto action and said that higher judiciary’s judicial activism is directed to women alone because they are easy preys, be it credit card theft case of Shumaila Rana of PML-N, possession of alcohol; case of Atiqa Odho of APML or PPP’s Waheeda Shah’s misconduct during elections.


After ECP disqualified the election of PS 53 Tando Muhammed Khan, PPP should have graciously accepted defeat and vowed to get their act together before general elections. But as Pakistani we never learn from mistakes and PPP officials also supported their candidate with Agha Siraj Durrani refusing to buy the rumpus that followed the incident saying that Shah had “only slapped the staff!”

As if the whole brouhaha surrounding the incident was not enough, Raja Riaz of PPP decided to add his voice to the commotion. He first denied Shah’s assault on the presiding officer and said she was just “pressed.”He then defended Shah’s act of violence as the grief of a traumatized widow and then blamed the victim in true Pakistani fashion for rigging the elections.  Waheeda Shah and her act of aggression is not unique, Pakistan has turned into this Orwellian nightmare where might is not always right, it wins in the end as well. 
First published in The Express Tribune,this is the unedited version.

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