Analysis: Why the allegations made by Ayesha Gulalai need to be probed

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By Minerwa Tahir

MNA Ayesha Gulalai quit PTI on Tuesday, leveling serious allegations against party chief Imran Khan. She spoke about inappropriate texting on part of the PTI chief and said the party was anti-women. As is customary in our society, character assassinating vitriol – that activists and supporters of almost all mainstream political parties have upheld as their trademark since perhaps forever – was unleashed. A smear campaign laced with a stream of invective was directed at Gulalai, who was seen as a liar.

To be fair, an investigation must be launched into the allegations. Gulalai is being asked to provide proof since she has come out in the public about a man who has long been aspiring to hold the highest public office of the country. She has no obligation to provide proof to anyone except before the court or any other investigative forum. Nevertheless, she has challenged Imran Khan to make public their Blackberry messages.

It is, however, interesting to note that as always, a man who has not even bothered to address the allegations leveled against him is considered innocent by default. Imagine a woman with the same credentials as Imran Khan – a flirtatious sportswoman with a child born out of wedlock. Our society would barely need any allegations for a woman after such credentials. Let alone being a public figure, she’d be admonished by her own family (that is, if she is spared from being killed in the name of ‘honour’).

On the other hand, there is a woman who has chosen to speak out about serious violation of her dignity. She is a woman who fulfils all the criteria that society demands of her. This woman covers her head and even invokes self-injurious, misplaced concepts of honour, tradition and religion, all with the hope that she is trusted for once.

But the woman is guilty by default.

Imran Khan, nonchalantly ignoring the allegations, is innocent. He can afford to ignore these allegations despite his aspirations for public office. This country’s Parliament houses the likes of men who speak of removing women’s shalvars on TV and advocate wife beating among other examples. Does Imran Khan really have anything to fear? He will contest the elections next year – might as well become the PM – and he will continue to be supported by men and women alike. It doesn’t matter to Shireen Mazari that the same misogynist mindset was behind the remarks on her body and voice. Men continue to succeed in pitting women against each other.

Meanwhile, Ayesha Gulalai is a woman of questionable character as she did not speak out in 2013. “Why did she not complain against Imran Khan when he sent her the first inappropriate text message in 2013?” The fact that the text message sent in 2013 still remains inappropriate is of little relevance now. The onus lies on Ayesha since she remained silent for a good four years about it.
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Story first published: 2nd August 2017

Originally Posted on SamaaNews

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