Pakistani Politicians Swearing

09Jan10

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There appears to be a developing trend of Pakistani leaders abusing each other on live national television. I am not sure what it means, but I find it to be a source of embarrassment and distress. What is also quite upsetting and perhaps, that is what makes the videos so popular, is how audiences are lapping it up. To me it reeks of the sort of vulgarity (and I don’t mean it in the fahaashi sense of the word, but rather the connotation of being offensive, distasteful) that you see on American television. Apparently I’m not alone in this estimation. Ammar Yasir of Teabreak.pk was clearly thinking the same when he compared the anchor to the American talk show host, Jerry Springer.

In the bout of ‘Pakistani politicians swearing’ – that is the search to do on Google – the first was the episode with Firdous Ashiq Awan and Kashmala Tariq. On live national television, Awan accused Tariq of arriving on to the political scene from Heera Mandi, Lahore’s well-known red light area. In an embarrassing rant, Awan went on to allege that Tariq had slept her way to political power. As if it’s not hard enough for women to enter the male-dominated world of power play, how commendable that they should be bickering amongst each other, and one should accuse the other of using her sexuality to further her career, and therefore, completely reliant upon men. The video made it to Facebook, and between two links to the same interview, it got close to 200,000 hits. Taking the lead from Firdous Ashiq Awan, other politicians (such as PML-N’s Hanif Abbasi) now feel entitled to take the same sort of cheap blow at Kashmala Tariq. I wondered if talk show hosts invite her on their programs hoping for a similar incident. In the most recent case, it was distressing to see that the anchorperson was a woman, and yet, she did not step up to defend her.

Next up, Mustafa Kamal, the mayor of Karachi was caught on tape abusing all of Pakistan for levelling allegations against his party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement. This came at the heels of conspiracy theories that the MQM was behind the bomb attack on the Ashura procession that killed dozens of Shia mourners, as well as the arson that followed in Boulton Market. To be fair, the party leaders were part of the procession, and one could hardly believe they would endanger their own lives. Mayor Kamal expressed his rage with a relatively polite cuss word on a private news channel.

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The latest not-so-polite swear word comes from Pervez Musharraf’s former spokesperson, General Rashid Qureshi. The good general got entangled in a barking match with Khwaja Mohammed Asif of the PML-N on a live phone exchange, and literally got the last word!

The question that interests me in all this is not the obvious: What is wrong with Pakistani leaders? It is: What has gone wrong with Pakistanis? Why do we want to watch this kind of pointless matter? Is it absolutely necessary for us to adopt the worst practices of our cultural colonisers? Pop music icon, Michael Jackson’s, sudden death generated unprecedented amounts in revenue. Everyone wanted to jump on to the bandwagon and make a quick buck. The greatest singer of our times has died – Ch-Ching! Let’s get those registers ready! Business Week lists many of the beneficiaries of Jackson’s demise, and says that ‘it’s not just online sites that stand to benefit.’ Do we really want to be the sort of nation that benefits from the death of an icon, and takes pleasure from the character assassination of a woman politician? And please let’s not make the excuse that it’s human, shall we? I, for one, would like to have a little more faith in humans.

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21 Responses to “Pakistani Politicians Swearing”

  1. 1 Nawaz

    Interesting observation. Though I haven’t been catching up on what’s blaring at us on the telly anymore, but it is indeed reeking at the state we’re in. It seems the bigwigs of power are not even thinking of what the rest of the citizens will think. Rather, they make a mockery of themselves, and now that the social media plays an active part in our daily lives, we have the whole world watching and laughing out loud at the start we are in.

    Here’s hoping that we make some sense. The news media actually represents the people and not just their own pockets of interest (and I mean that as a fact). Hoping for a better, stronger and consistently progressing Pakistan, our land, and our people.

    Amen.

  2. 2 Sana Saleem

    First things first, I love the photos . Secondly, the Firdaus Awan episode was disgusting, the anchor had plenty of time to mute their mics if he wanted to that is, similarly the producer couldve cut short for a break but none of that happened.

    It’s all about getting sensational stuff for rankings. On the other hand some of our politicians eg: firdaus awan are looking for cheap publicity. With the mustafa kamal episode I thought the anchor was rubbing it in and almost making the mayor lose it. Ofcourse I don’t approve of the use of swear word.But I
    do feel that the media instead of regulating is promoting such incidents.
    I am afraid until the platform sets up a decorum the participants,regardless of who they are, will continue to behave irrresponsibly.
    It’s unfortunate that our high ranking officials and politicians also need to be taught a thing or two about ethics and how to behave on live TV.
    But for starters let’s begin with ‘no swear words on my show’ bit plz.

  3. 3 Munzir Naqvi

    It is very unfortunate to hear the cursing that goes on Pakistani Media. Even in the United States, where we have ratings, Cursing is not tolerated on the Basic Channels and there is big fine from the FCC.

    It’s the point that our news talk shows have become entertainment that our family watches the news in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Information Ministry should impose fines on the TV networks. Our Politicians should know better not to curse, and especially those who say As-Salaamwalakum (Peace be upon you) as if they are very prious Muslims and then curse and argue at the same time.

    We know better, we deserve better. Just because Pakistan maybe considered a third world country does not mean that we live by Third world standards, and our politicians should at least speak with respect and decency.

    • There may be a fine on cursing in the US but there’s plenty of bleeps and everyone knows what the bleeps are covering!

      And what does it mean to ‘live by Third world standards’ exactly? Let’s not forget that ‘tehzeeb’ translated as culture or civility as we know it came from this part of the world, which is now known as the Third world.

      • 5 Munzir Naqvi

        I am very honored with your reply.

        The point being, there are bleeps, not every one knows what the bleeps are covering. I know when I was a child, I knew it was a bad word but not aware of what word it was, but that the media will not tolerate those words and considers them bad.

        You have a point in regards to third world countries. But I think that the comment was miscommunicated on my part. I mean that just because Pakistan may be considered a third world country, the politicians should have the standards and we can not settle for second hand technology, while India, also in the same category is among the computer technology leaders in the world.

        When our Father Jinnah spoke to the masses, he did not make the citizens feel like third world citizens, he made them feel as equal citizens of the state.

  4. 6 Farax

    Nice article. The first picture really sums it all up.

  5. 7 Rabab khan

    The pictures made me smile. 🙂

    I was disgusted by the above mentioned incidents too, when I saw them. You are correct when you say that these incidents allow others to think they can take the same sort of liberty with women politicians. I suppose politicians are aware that they attract more attention this way, thus they use the “public demand” of swearing and cussing to their advantage.

    Its strange that on one hand we dislike our politicians for their behaviour and words, but when it comes to pleasing the male ego, its totally the opposite. “Wah wah! He told her right” “Serves her right!” etc etc and etc. Whats even more depressing, though not surprising, is that even women are using the “satisfy-male-ego” route to popularity.

    Hope more people read your post and understand.

  6. Yes, and we are forgetting the PML-N legislators..

    Nice article, however, Mustafa Kamal is not a politician, but a Mayor rather. But still this does not justify what he said. But we must compare the situations Firdaus Awan, Rana Sanaullah, Kh. Asif were in and when they erupted to the situation MK was in when he lost control 🙂

  7. We all blame the western media to be quite forward but even the most forward nations and their MSM follow some rules and regulations. No live talk show has the ability to solve any national problems in 1 hour of air time. So why these anchors provoke their guests into a situation where the last resort is to burst out into their ugly alter ego or their true self in many cases.

    But why MSM is doing it? is it for ratings or adds? If they cant handle a live show then they should record it instead. As for the politicians and generals who made it to the top thanks to dictatorship we know what class they represent 😛

  8. I dream of an independent public-interest television channel in Pakistan that would act as a watchdog and a producer of meaningful, incisive content. A channel that is committed to taking a stand, determined to ask the hard questions. A channel that isn’t dependent on advertising revenues. A channel that creates and follows a code of conduct and ethics.

    Clearly the only way to do something like this here is to do it online – which means it won’t have the reach that television does 😦 Given how the world is driven and controlled by financial interests, the best one can do is create an alternative space.

    And I agree, far more worrying than the producers of this sexist, obnoxious drivel are the people who mindlessly consume it and ask for more. It’s time to rise up and say NO!

    • I think, thankfully, that increasing numbers of people ARE saying NO to this kind of nonsense – we all know many people who refuse to watch certain channels anymore just because of the nonsense on display. It’s a trend on the rise thankfully,and inshallah quality will come through.the proportion of people who consume drivel will go down because the kashmala tariq incidents linked here are disgusting. simply disgusting, and i don’t believe that our nation primarily accepts sophomoric humor – good humor, good satire along the lines of alif noon was once the bomb, after all, and still is incredibly popular in the young generation.

      But this has another side-effect too,and a rather painful one at that, which is that the critics of democracy get more stones to throw. they can easily say now,look, this is what your democracy is, these are the leaders who get elected, this is why military dictatorships are necessary.

      sabeen,over the long term i think it IS possible to create an alternative space.broadband use in pakistan has been growing extremely quickly and as more and more people migrate to the internet, viability for the independent channel will increase. stuff like awab alvi’s the laidback show can be content. and i think that we can have some GREAT quality content if resources can be gathered. perhaps T2F can be a hub for discourse along those lines? 🙂

  9. I love the the post image … the true picture of Pak Politics …

  10. It is really sad that our channels resort to cheap gimmicks to get high ratings. There should be a code of conduct on air. The best idea would be to introduce a time delay feature so that inappropriate words can be muted. This is the sort of behavior one can expect from certain celebrities such as Kathy Griffin who used the F word live on air on CNN (for some new year special). Needless to say she will never be invited on air again. I just feel like our politicians want more fame and they know some people get thrills out of watching such videos. That is one reason why they do anything to stay in the news. They should try and do something so that we can see them from a positive angle instead of acting so uncouth. People should be able to handle the line of fire and control themselves. There should be a law to punish these people for profanity on air. People who cuss and abuse others while defending themselves have a lot of guilt. Why not prove us wrong and handle everything in a cool and calm manner? If you aren’t guilty then do it in a civilized manner. I guess it’s time to re-educate them.

  11. we’ve talked about the media here, we’ve talked about the audience here, but we haven’t talked a lot about the sources of filth here, because perhaps we pretty much take it for granted that nothing good can be expected of the government. i would say that anchors like you, ms. naqvi, and others, should now publicly, on-air, ask members of these parties to refrain from being this pathetic. when you do an interview of someone with real authority in the party, ask if these people were ever punished for their misbehavior. and make a point of not inviting them on any show ever again. kashmala tariq should have the sense to stay off television permanently now, but she didn’t exhibit a lot of sense in the clips,which is a profound pity. you scream your lungs out for women’s rights but then they don’t make it easier,do they?

    • Hmm. I see what you’re saying, but i have to ask…why should Kashmala Tariq stay off television?? After all, she’s the one who’s been wronged! By your logic, if I were harassed on the street, I should be house-bound forever.

      • well, she was in a fight, and fights get messy. i firmly believe in the urdu saying: taali do haath se bajti hai. she was being pretty adversarial, for lack of a better word, in those videos as well. in the moments before getting accused of immorality, i would say she was speaking (or yelling) inappropriately at the other guests too. what they did was wrong, in every way. but she wasn’t a model of perfect behavior either. she could have backed off too, she could have refrained from accusation and mud slinging, but she rolled up her sleeves and went for the jugular, and, well, people fight back.

  12. Well MSM in Pakistan is a chooza who thinks its the biggest murgha in the neighborhood but goes cheep cheep when it speaks.
    Brilliant article..if we cannot criticize ourselves we cannot grow. We need to stop turning everything into a ratings war…if we are discussing who has slept with who on national tv, pretty soon everyone in politics will be at fault :p (metaphorically speaking of course)

  13. 19 Bushra.

    Pakistan is obviously in hot water taking in account the outcries of Baluchistan for want of separation from the State, Taliban rampaging, A crescendo of drone attacks and conspiracies flaring on the whereabouts of the very clandestine American tactics. And all our leaders can think in these troubled times are saving their butt for the hot seats and hurling at each each other. We’re goners.


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