A sexist remark by the leader of the opposition about his female counterparts soured National Assembly proceedings on Thursday.
The issue arose when Speaker Ayaz Sadiq asked women lawmakers to quiet down or step outside to continue their conversation while the house conducted its business.
Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah, who had been addressing the house when the disruption happened, seemed to take particular affront, adding that: “Do not ask these women to stop talking, speaker; they will fall ill if they don’t talk continuously.”
The NA speaker was quick to tell Shah, a senior leader of the PPP, that: “You are hurting your privilege by speaking this way about women.”
Following Shah’s remarks, MNA Nafisa Shah, who belongs to Shah’s party, said she would stage a protest, asking why the speaker was only silencing women if men are also talking.
The speaker silenced her again, saying: “You cannot challenge the chair.”
Aseefa Bhutto Zardari took to Twitter to address the incident, pointing out that: “Far too many times this has happened. Insensitive remarks against women in politics have recurred in Parliament. Such remarks should not be tolerated,” she said.
“Hope Khursheed Shah respectfully apologises,” she added.
Aseefa also noted that the parliament’s treatment of women reflects on Pakistani society as a whole.
“If parliament is a model of our society and if our parliament continues to make derogatory remarks against women, it reflects on us,” she tweeted.
NA sessions regularly dissolve into chaos after lawmakers, unable to politely disagree with each other, can be seen yelling across the room, name-calling, making sexist and ‘vulgar’ remarks, and staging protests and walkouts.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif came under fire by opposition lawmakers in June last year for making offensive remarks against PTI’s Shireen Mazari, including calling her a “tractor trolley”.