Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari’s spat with her daughter, Imaan Mazari, on Twitter over the latter’s rather hard-hitting tweet about the reports of superstitious beliefs being practised while making crucial appointment, was interesting to see. Not only did the human rights minister participate in the vicious troll campaign against Asma Shirazi by terming BBC an agent of India, she also chose to publicly rebuke her own daughter for a totally non-problematic tweet demanding answers from the government.
Imaan Mazari was absolutely right. If superstitious beliefs are being considered while making important decisions, this government must be held answerable for it. The way PTI troll brigade has been targeting Asma Shirazi is shameful to say the least.
Shireen Mazari said that she was ashamed of her daughter for her tweet, but she should in fact be proud of her for speaking truth to power. She should also pat herself at the back for raising an independent minded daughter who does not mince words while speaking her mind. However, it is obvious that the minister would be expected to publicly call her daughter out since she is a minister in Imran Khan’s cabinet. And like all other leaders, she is expected to defend every indefensible move and policy of the government.
Two things are important to state in this regard. First, many non-journalists who often accuse journalists of being biased in the opinions do not understand the difference between news and analysis. For the uninitiated, an analysis piece can have the writer’s own opinion which is subjective and not based on factual statements. A news report, on the other hand, is based on facts and happenings as and when they take place and cannot have the reporter’s own opinion.
Despite the fact that Asma Shirazi’s piece was an opinion article, the PTI social media team including ministers and senior leaders began relentless attacks against her. Earlier today, Special Adviser to the PM Shahbaz Gill held a press conference against her as the trolls associated with his party’s social media team continue to attack the journalist for expressing her views.
While the ruling party’s troll brigade is notorious for intimidating and harassing journalists into silence, this behaviour is not limited to the PTI. Many other parties also engage in this behaviour and expect journalists to side with them. This lack of understanding about the media’s role is also a reason for such online campaigns against journalists. But it only goes to show how those at the helm of affairs in Pakistan are ignorant about the media’s role.
Secondly, this latest spate of attacks against Asma Shirazi is also linked with the PTI government’s intolerance towards any and all forms of criticism directed against the First Lady, Bushra Bibi. This despite the fact that Asma had not named anyone while discussing the use of magic in decision-making.
But the question here is that why she should be immune from criticism despite being in the public eye. As the prime minister’s wife, Bushra Bibi is a public figure and all public figures are often at the receiving end of such public scrutiny. For a party that claims to champion accountability, it is unfortunate that PTI doesn’t tolerate criticism.