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An open letter to Ayesha Gulalai

Ms. Ayesha Gulalai,

Recently, you were in news for you claimed that you were (sexually) harassed by Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), my heart literally sank with news.

As a woman, I immediately developed a sense of empathy for you because if women would not come forward, empathize and support other women who have faced harassment then who will? It is binding on us as we all have been a mutual victim of this menace at some stage of our lives.

I lauded your bravery for daring to speak about what happened to you and for standing up against a powerful man.

But, suddenly things began to get fishy when you did your press conference in your defence. That’s where I stepped back in my support for you and was forced to doubt the veracity of your words.

We all were waiting for proofs of harassment (as promised by you) but, you gave none. Your tone was vindictive and it was implying that there is something more than just the matter of harassment. Sadly, your press conference was all accusations and no proof.

You said that you received the first inappropriate message from Imran Khan in October, 2013 and received the last one in July, 2016.

If it is true, then how come your ‘Ghairat’ allowed you to accept a reserved seat from a characterless man and a from a party that you accused is enriched with the culture of exploiting women?

Why you tolerated harassment for such a long time? And why did you remain quiet for this long?

You denied having any contact with PML-N’s Amir Muqam but, later on, accepted that you contacted him or he contacted you. You denied any demand of PTI ticket from NA-1 but, later on, conceded that too. What’s the truth?

You have been persistently saying that you have all the proofs but, you showed none, at least not publicly. Now, you suddenly want to end this matter by not choosing to fight any legal battle and demands that if Imran Khan apologizes, this chapter will be closed. Why letting the harasser go free and unpunished?

Things don’t add up, Ms. Ayesha Gulalai.

While my mind was still solving that enigma, I was stunned by your praise for Nawaz Sharif’s piety. You called him a Khandaani Admi – who respects women – but, you conveniently forgot how he recently insinuated PTI women as characterless by saying “Aap ne dekha tha naa wo jalsay mein kia kar rahein thi?”

I genuinely feel that you must have forgotten this, otherwise, your sudden lordship for him makes no sense.

I am not here to pass any judgment but, your continuous contradictory statements – changing every nanosecond – left us with no choice but, to believe that – as of today – you are blatantly lying. The whole episode seems to have a covert personal or political motive behind it. Politics is a dirty business. Unfortunately, you too got embroiled in this business.

I am writing you this letter in an attempt to make you realize that you damaged more than just yourself. I want to express my disappointment on how you exploited the word harassment.

I fear the day, when I will be harassed and when I would complain, I will be laughed at by giving your example. You weakened my power over harassers. You hurt me. You hurt all women.

I don’t need to tell you the hurdles women face in Pakistan to get out of their homes and pursue their dreams. Our culture is too conservative and mindset is too narrow to accept women as equal.

You perhaps forgot the sensitivity of the subject. I want you to sit back and reflect what you have done.

While harping about Imran Khan’s “bad-character” yet insist on keeping the “reserved seat” indicates nothing but your insatiable lust for power.

Just to add, a reserved seat is not “amanat” as you are not ‘elected’ but ‘selected’.

Your unjustified intransigent attitude towards not vacating the “reserved seat” gifted to you by your harasser tells everything about your ghairat, principles, ethics and morality.

The other day, in your speech at National Assembly, you appallingly attacked the characters of PTI female members while complaining about yourself and your sister being attacked.

While you were grieving about your character assassination, you were doing the same to PTI women. What’s their fault? It sounded comically ironic when you said on the floor of the house that you are well aware of the “merit criteria” by which women join PTI (hinting at inappropriate channels) but, you (alone) were selected on “merit”.

While we have a history of victim blaming, we all are standing on the edge of it as we are accused of the same because we ask for proofs from you.

A lot of people are suggesting that we should believe you on your face value.

Why? As all your accusations stand unsubstantial and contradictory till today.

Please give every one of us a shut up call (who according to many are victim shaming you and accusing you of opportunism) by pursuing a legal battle against Imran Khan and expose him.

We all demand a fair investigation into this matter. The harasser must not go scot-free.

If I were you I would simply take the messages (the proofs) to the investigative authority for forensic test. Why aren’t you doing that? You should present all the proofs and come out as triumphant.

So, either take Imran Khan to court, show all the proofs, make him penalized or else just stop earning yourself disrespect and badmouthing and insulting your fellow women.

Please understand that the term harassment is not confined to any gender. Falsely accusing someone of harassment is also harassment. The respect of both the genders is equally sacred.

Do I sound that I am defending Imran Khan? No.

I just want to make sure that I am on the right side. If he is found guilty of harassment, you would find me doing a scathing criticism of him. But, until then, I find you the one who is harassing him.

Before, I finish, I want to apologize on behalf of everyone who abused you and dragged your sister, Maria Toorpakai, and vilified her to counter your accusations. Unfortunately, it is a rotten world.

She is our national hero and will always be.

Lastly, I am still waiting for one public display of proof from you – just one – that you were harassed so I could be with you.

A Pakistani woman.

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