PML-N supporters also regularly point to the language used by Imran and other current and former PTI leaders.
Despite being elevated to senior statesman status by PML-N supporters and some in the media, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif maintains his reputation for using crass and sexist language on the floor of Parliament. Asif’s recent horrible comments came as an unnecessary diversion from a more legitimate critique of how the PTI conducted legislative business while Imran Khan was prime minister. Instead of sticking to the point, he went after female MNAs in a manner that has now become second nature to him. Asif’s repeated use of such language also raises serious questions over his apologies for previous foul-mouthed attacks.
PML-N supporters also regularly point to the language used by Imran and other current and former PTI leaders. The problem with this argument is that the use of such language on the floor of the elected house should never be considered acceptable or justified, even if it is in response to someone else’s use of gutter language at political rallies. It was also surprising that leaders from the PPP — which has arguably the highest number of women leaders in prominent roles — refused to criticise Asif’s speech, with footage from the assembly suggesting that at least one prominent PPP leader was actually laughing during Asif’s speech. Whether it was at Asif’s speech or something unrelated, the optics were unacceptable for a leader or a party that claims to fight for women’s rights.
While the floors of parliaments around the world are regularly used for sniping opponents, this is usually done in a refined manner, using facts and ideas, not slurs. Parliamentarians should use language that inspires and uplifts, and it is the duty of the speaker of the house to ensure that debate stays at a certain standard. But here, Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf limited himself to striking one comment — technically just one word — off the record without any other intervention. If not a higher standard, parliament should at least try to hold itself to some standard.