Pakistan’s political class has not been spared from video leaks. As far as scandals go, government and opposition politicians have been mainstay. In the latest round, PML-N’s Muhammad Zubair, spokesperson to Maryam Nawaz and Nawaz Sharif, has purportedly appeared in a similar video. The video shows a supposed Muhammad Zubair indulging in sexually intimate activities with unidentified women.
The private sexual affairs of the political class, judges, bureaucrats and every other citizen deserve to be left alone. This is not least, because every single person is guaranteed a right to privacy in the constitution. There may be some exceptions, where privately conducted intimate affairs may have breached laws of general public importance hence justifying public revelations. The above video was not that case.
Principles aside, it did however smear and tarnish Zubair’s reputation. Revealing private and intimate matters in public light almost always casts a shadow of doubt on the subject. Strictly speaking, private affairs of a person shouldn’t constitute grounds for discrediting them politically but this is far from reality.
People form opinions and judgements about public figures based on their morality. Unfortunately, Pakistani politicians and judges have been direct victims. Take for example the video of the NAB chairman engaging in sexual conduct with an accused’s wife or Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed allegedly dirty talking a Tik Tok star. Release of private affairs in public is done specifically to harm an individual’s reputation, image and wreak havoc in their personal lives. Release of Muhammad Zubair’s video is no exception.
There also remain questions around the employment of surveillance tactics. The former governor termed the video ‘fake’ and ‘all wrong’. If one critically analyses the video, it raises pertinent questions. If the said politician did have extramarital relations, why was it all being taped? Who placed those cameras in a strictly private setting? If these actions were consensual, who released this video for public consumption? And why now? The answers to these questions are not easy.
The backdrop to video scandals remains dark. It is an open secret that scores of journalists, judges and politicians are rumoured to have been blackmailed over sensitive material from their private lives. The blackmailing is done to arm twist them into subservience. This is precisely why one editor from Islamabad calls it the ‘honey trap’ industry. The practice often revolves around luring a judge, politician or anyone of public significance via romantic and sexual relationships. The documentary and visual evidence made in the process is used to exert influence on the said person.
It is the sword of Damocles hanging over their head, all the time. Strategically speaking, those who retain or have an uncontrollable penchant for sexual affairs and drugs are at highest risk of compromise.
Muhammad Zubair’s video scandal must also be viewed in light of his political affiliation. His recent remarks backing Maryam Nawaz’s claim on refusal to support extension and hardline stance means he has accrued a considerable degree of anger. This could well be an attempt by treasury benches or from elsewhere, to hurt him publicly.
Doctored or not, the video adds no value to public discourse. It doesn’t even transform opinions’ about Muhammad Zubair’s politics. It does, however, indicate a degenerative political culture. This culture will stop nowhere to demean or disgrace the rival. And this culture is here to stay.