After Prime Minister Imran Khan appeared to mock PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto by referring to him as ‘sahiba’ (or madam) earlier this week, Bilawal Bhutto initially responded with a witty comeback.
The PM has drew a lot of flak for equating femaleness with weakness, with PPP’s Nafisa Shah slamming his statement as an affront to all women of Pakistan in the National Assembly today.
But does Bilawal need the same lesson in sexism 101 too?
In a media interaction today, Bilawal responded to PM’s jibe once again, saying: “Agar Khan sahab samajhti hai ke iss kisam ka comment deke wo kisi ko insult karaha hai tou sirf apne aap ka insult karaha hai”, using the feminine variation of ‘samajhta’ to throw a similar kind of shade at the PM
Was that really necessary for Bilawal to make his point? In a statement that emphasises that IK’s choice of words was unbecoming of a prime minister, Bilawal appears to be stooping to the same low standards to get back at him.
It’s possible that Bilawal’s use of words may be his way of turning on its head the PTI rebuttal that ‘sahiba’ should be interpreted as a compliment. Perhaps he thinks if he’s expected to accept ‘sahiba’ as a compliment (rather than a sexist jibe), then IK can too.
Either way, the more appropriate thing for Bilawal to do was to explicitly call Khan out on his misogyny. Here’s hoping that the PM doesn’t present another opportunity for that to happen.