Original Articles

The Slap

When a woman hits another woman, in normal cases it’s an assault. If there are many witnesses, good, the assailant gets punished quickly. Open and Shut case, we move on. But Pakistan doesn’t do normal; even our assaults have deeper meanings and ramifications behind them.

The Act
When the, now MPA, Waheeda Shah slapped an on duty election official. This was uncalled for, even if the official had herself placed ballots right in front of the candidate. Violence is never acceptable. What makes the situation worse is that only reason Ms. Shah did slap the officials is because she has this sense of entitlement. As she belongs to a higher caste, being more socially higher and is much more affluent, she felt she can slap her lesser. This is not new or radical and happens almost regularly. What was different is that whole incident was caught in camera and televised throughout.
As always, the very elite who batter their lesser on daily basis woke up as horrified as to what they were seeing. Much like when you see yourself on the video taken by someone else, is that how I look? Only that no one here seems to recognise themselves and have started to prepare a pyre to burn that witch.
Some members of Sindh found it unbearable to sit with such a woman. Oddly no one found it unbearable when the then CM Arbab Rahim slapped people, with same contempt and sense of entitlement.
There is an immediate need to bring about a change in attitudes of the more affluent to treat others with respect. There is very little of this in our society.

The Win

Waheeda Shah was running on a general seat. She eventually won her election, making her only the second woman to win on the general seat in the Sindh Parliament. An important milestone for woman of Sindh, one might say, yet ironically this is a woman who has beaten another weaker woman in public, just because she could!
The Suo Moto
Influenced not at all by media rampant reporting and any personal grievances, the Chief Justice of Pakistan promulgated a Suo Moto action against the now elected MPA. Everytime a Suo-moto is taken by the highest court in such a fashion, the due process is severely affected. Trying to explain such intermediation, in the while where there was already an FIR lodged; CJP stated that to him this incident was worse than cold-blooded killing of a boy by a trigger happy Ranger official. Perhaps he meant the underlying social issues that lurk within the slap, but he made no mention of them. He did mention that this showed inadequacy of the Election Commission to provide full security and showed lack of security to public official, though Suo-Moto was taken on this one incident and not on other incidents of shootings that also occurred in Punjab. No wait, sorry I forgot slapping is more harmful than guns. Suo-Moto wasn’t also on overall lack of security provided by EC, with all the incidents that happened that day. It was for that one slap, by a PPP MPA. Incidentally no Suo-Motos for the killings of many Shias.
A better way may have been to advice a session court judge and Sindh IGP to direct the investigations to ensure no influence is done. It is not a perfect scenario, but if the CJP wants there to be a structural change then he should at least let law run its course, for once.

The Apology and the Forgiveness
When Waheeda Shah was shown the video of her actions, she apologised for it. She also sought apology from the Chief Justice at the Suo moto hearing. This did not end the case, and the hearing was said to continue for next date.
Subsequently the official who was slapped by the Waheeda Shah came out with a statement, saying she forgives her assailant after former had apologised. After this the Election Commission decided to close the case. Similarly the FIR too would now be in jeopardy. Similar to case of Raymond Davis, being freed after family of his victims forgave him. Oddly enough while following the Islamic injunctions, Waheeda Shah would have no case against her, but the Suo Moto is not based on any Islamic injunctions but has an underpinning in the common law. These proceedings can still continue, as they are independent of the victim’s right to seek redress. This is odd because Islamic provisions in this case allow the MPA to go free, yet the SC court that has expressed high regard for ensuring and introducing Islamic law and principles, would be using common law to redress the situation, to come to a conclusion as they see fit.
As I said, it’s not a normal assault – we don’t do normal.

About the author

Sindhyar Talpur

11 Comments

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  • I am also from higher caste, this mean i can slap you, this is not radical a, right?????? please tell me when i can slap thx

  • It DOES have a deeper meaning!

    In the eyes of law she tried to influence the election officers possibly tampering the results. It is a different offence altogether.

    Ofcourse the fact that a suo moto notice has been taken is only and only because the member is from PPP but this feaudal attitude prevailing through out the country needs to be leashed.

    Further more, no Waheeda Shah has not apologised! She should have apologised to the women concerned in public as they were slapped in public. She apologised to Iftikhar Chaudhry which he rejected.

  • ‘When Waheeda Shah was shown the video of her actions, she apologised for it.’

    I wonder if the writer is also just as naive as Waheeda!

    You are right about not taking suo moto against the Shia killings though.

  • Sindhyar! You have a gift for clarity! Great! keep it up!
    Another side of this is that “individual actions” are taken very seriously in Islamic Republic. Mrs Shah demonstrated an arrogance which has been conferred to her by the society which based of social hierarchy. No one chanllages that , the only one who trid to challange it by doing land reforms was hanged by same court who now refuses to give him justice! But still is offended at the henious act by Mrs Shah. His lordship will not react to the collective slap on faces of all Pakistani women by Taliban who burned girls schools in Sawat . Neither does my lorsdship ever call the residant evil of Red Mosque who dehumanized women!
    our problem is we dont want to see reality. Mrs Shah acted terribly i dont want to support her i will never support a person who feels its his or her birth right to be violent but fate of women of pakistan is affected by some thing more than this slap!

  • Saad Mansoor and Ali Abbas – She apologized to victim and according the victim’s statement, by going to her house.

    was it a genuine forgiveness? unlikely but that’s the point of this article.. that this one incident has revealed all these complications in our society.

  • The Suo Moto was because it was a PPP woman who slapped a lady, irrespective of what the reason was or irrespective of her apologies.
    There was no suo moto on other dhandlies in other constituencies or on the aerial firing that was done by activists!
    Hang Zardari, Hang PPP is the motto of our judges

  • بیچارے پپلے اپنی مظلوم ذہنیت کا رونا ہی روتے رہتے ہیں…چپیڑ بھی مرتے ہیں تو ٹی وی کے سامنے اور پھر روتے بھی ہیں یہ کہتے ہووے کہ ہنگامہ کیوں ہے–ارے او پھسڈی اور اٹکل پچو جیالو کچھ تو شرم کرو اپنی مری ہوئی بینظیر کا جو شائد تمہارے ان بلوگوں کو آگ لگا دیتی اور وہ پھینٹی لگاتی کہ آئندہ کبھی عورت کو چپیڑ مارنے پر اتنا گھٹیابلوگ لکھنے کی جرات نہ ہوتی— چلو اب جلدی سے اپنی عورتوں کو چپیڑ مار کر بتاو کے چیف کو آکشن نہیں لینا چاہیے تھا–