Few Questions for Shehrbano (Sherry) Rahman

By B. R. Gowani

Pakistan’s Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Ms. Rahman, defended her government’s decision to let the militants introduce Islamic laws in the Swat Valley citing it to be according to the public’s will: “It is in no way a sign of the state’s weakness. The public will of the population of the Swat region is at the centre of all efforts and it should be taken into account while debating the merits of this agreement.” “The president will approve the Nizam-e-Adal Regulation after the restoration of peace in the region.”

This is a lie. Further, yesterday the Pakistan government denied that the deal it signed was a concession to the taliban, which is another lie.

The above statements reek of sheer hypocrisy by Ms. Rahman. It is particularly disheartening as it comes from a western educated person who has also been the former editor of Herald magazine and has, in the past, shown concern on the issues of health, education, children, and women. She should instead have feigned illness to avoid the press, rather than put her government’s capitulation to the barbaric militants, as the “public’s will.”

Here are a few questions I would like her to answer:

Is the blowing up of hundreds of schools the public’s will?

Is the acid throwing and disfiguring of girls’ faces the public’s will?

Is the killing of girls the public’s will?

Is the burning down of video stores the public’s will?

Is the attacking of barber shops when they shave customer beards the public’s will?

Is the regular bombing of anything the militants can lay their hands on the public’s will?

Is the confining of women to the four walls of the house the public’s will?

Is the beheading of opponents the public’s will?

Is the order to parents to marry off their daughters to militants the public’s will?

Is barring women from going to the market the public’s will?

Is the banning of girls’ education the public’s will?

Is the public being turned into refugees the public’s will?

Is denying of medical treatment to women by male doctors the public’s will?

Is the order to married couples to carry nikahnama or marriage certificates when they go out the public’s will?

Is the murder of woman councilor Bakht Zeba who strongly favored girls education the public’s will?

There are many such questions for which Ms. Rahman can have no answer in the affirmative.

We all know that all of the above are not the public’s will. Besides, the will of the public is one thing, but what can not be ignored is that every individual has certain basic rights: to dress the way they want, to attend schools and colleges, to visit entertainment places, to have male or female friends, to live with anyone they want to, to pursue [or not] any religion they want, etc. They should be safe to live their daily life and be able to express their thoughts without fear of death, or worse.

Ms. Rahman, I ask you, if the militants were to order you to cover up and wear a burkha, would you then say that it’s the public’s will and do it?

If the militants were to order you to stay at home, would you then say that it is the public’s will and comply?

I cannot help but appreciate your bravery to work with the corrupt decadent macho feudal lusty lords (who usually have both hands in their pockets — one counting the illegal money, and other trying to soothe an itch). Nonetheless, the progressives would also want you to show more courage when handling issues that threaten the country’s integrity and it’s women.

B. R. Gowani can be reached at brgowani@hotmail.com

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