FROM INFLATING THE ECONOMY TO FAILING EMPATHY: DEAR IMMI, DOES THE MURREE TRAGEDY MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU?

Taliban stopping girls from education is called part of the Pashtun culture; Hazara families demanding compensation for their beloved killed in cold blood are called black-mailers; tourists dying in Murree are labelled careless; women reporting sexual abuse are flaunted as fahash; the rise in sexual crimes is attributed to mobile phones and tiktok; coronavirus is blamed upon Lahoris being jahil. This government has repeatedly made clear the sheer contempt they have for ordinary Pakistanis: they are nothing, but blameworthy.

Authored by Iman Hussain

Twenty-two people froze to death in cars stranded in snow amid a glut of tourist influx in Murree to convey remorse; Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted, 'Shocked & upset at tragic deaths of tourists on the road to Murree. Unprecedented snowfall & rush of ppl proceeding without checking weather conditions caught district admin unprepared. Have ordered inquiry & putting in place strong regulation to ensure prevention of such tragedies.' His insensitive comments took Twitter by storm people were astounded that the government's incompetence was put on the tourists.

Questioning if the weather forecast indicated the snowfall on January 5, they followed up to raise why they didn't take precautions or alert tourists. Above all, the PM chose to indulge in victim-blaming instead of taking responsibility for the incident. People were furious because only three days ago, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had been flaunting the influx of tourists and hence, celebrating the government's achievement of bringing tourism to Murree.

'Nearly one lakh vehicles have entered Murree. Rents of hotels and residences have gone up many times. This increase in tourism shows increase in prosperity and income of common man. One hundred big companies have made a profit of Rs. 929 billion this year. All major media groups account for 33 to 40 percent of profits," the minister wrote on 5th January.'

Meanwhile, the gross number of incidents that have occurred under Sheikh Rasheed’s management - both as the Railway Minister and Interior Minister - are yet unaccounted for and the PM still does not have the power to let him go. One Twitter user stated that the government was warned about the pitfalls of their tourism plan beforehand, but the authorities overlooked the work that the infrastructure required.

The army has been deployed in Murree to control the situation, but questions remain: where was NDMA when people were stuck for 20+ hours - when ministers were celebrating 'unprecedented rush'? And the PM chose to respond by completely absolving the government and blaming the victims - a stance downright insensitive and callous. Imran Khan needs to know that an unprecedented lack of empathy caught the country unprepared. 

But this isn't the first time Imran Khan made insensitive remarks last year around the same time armed attackers slit the throats of 11 miners in a residential compound near a mine site in Balochistan's Mach coalfield area. Thousands of Hazaras protested with coffins after that sitting in the freezing temperature, with the bodies of their loved ones; instead of going to Quetta to console the families, PM said that he was 'blackmailed.'

"We have accepted all of their demands. [But] one of their demands is that the dead will be buried when the prime minister visits. I have sent them a message that when all of your demands have been accepted [...], you don't blackmail the prime minister of any country like this.

"Anyone will blackmail the prime minister then," he said, adding that this included a "band of crooks" in an apparent reference to the Pakistan Democratic Movement. "This blackmail has also been ongoing for two-and-a-half years."

The use of such words that lack empathy insults those already affected by the tragedy. Journalists, Politicians, and citizens were quick to pick on his words and took to Twitter to show their disappointment. hashtags criticizing the government response, #ApatheticPMIK was the top trend on Twitter in Pakistan

Later that year, in April 2021, In a two-hour-long, question-and-answer interview with the public on live television, Imran Khan was asked what steps his government had taken to prevent sexual abuse.

After denouncing crimes against women and children, he said that sexual violence resulted from "increasing obscenity," adding it was a product of India, the West, and Hollywood movies. He added Aaj jis maashray mein aap fahashi barhatay jayen, toh koi tou us ka asar hoga na. (In any society where vulgarity is prevalent, there are consequences)," he shared. "Humare deen mein kyun mana kiya gaya hai? Ye sara jo parday ka concept hai, yeh kya hai? Ke temptation na ho maashray mein. Har insaan mein will power nahi hota. (The reason why our religion stresses covering up your body and maintaining modesty is to avoid any such temptation. Not everyone has the willpower to avoid it)."

Rape is not a crime of lust or pleasure; it is a crime of power, and people took it to Twitter to correct the PM - and rightfully so

Imran Khan is a rape apologist, and he linked rape with "obscenity" his comments were ignorant, dangerous, and condemnable. His propagation of this rape myth shows he has no understanding of the issue and amounts to providing excuses for criminal acts of perpetrators while blaming the victims.

Within two months - in June - the PM came in an interview on Axios, a documentary news series on HBO. Herein, he interviewer Jonathan Swan asked him if the way women dressed could provoke acts of sexual violence; Khan said: 'It depends on which society you live in. If in a society where people haven't seen that sort of thing, it will have an impact on them...If a woman is wearing very few clothes, it will have an impact, and it will have an impact on the men unless they're robots,' the prime minister said. "I mean, it's common sense."

Marriyum Aurangzeb, the spokeswoman for the opposition Pakistan Muslim League party, condemned Khan on Twitter for his remarks. 'The world got an insight into a mindset of a sick, misogynistic, degenerate & derelict IK (Imran Khan). It's not women's choices that lead to sexual assault rather the choices of men who choose to engage in this despicable and vile CRIME, she said.

In December 2021, addressing the 17th session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's (OIC) hosted in Islamabad urged the international community to be 'sensitive to tribal customs' while justifying the Taliban banning young girls from schools.

'We must understand the idea of human rights and women's rights is different in every society,' giving the example of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Pakistan. He went on, 'The city culture is completely different from the culture in rural culture. Kabul's culture was always different from rural areas, just like in Peshawar. We give stipends to the parents of the girls to send them to school, but in our tribal areas (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province), if we are not sensitive to the cultural norms, even with stipend, they won't send them to school.'

Truly a heartless PM who can not even feign empathy and chooses to hide behind words by blaming the victims in the situations of national emergencies. Can’t manage the economy. Can’t govern. Now, he can’t even empathize. What exactly is his selling point - cricket or oxford? People will not forget that when hundreds of people were stuck in a snow storm in Murree Punjab CM Usman Buzdar, provincial ministers and federal ministers Fawad Chaudhry and Shafqat Mehmood spent two and a half hours on Punjab party organization and the PM chose to protect them instead of questioning 

  • In: OPINION