Marvi Memon vs. Ghairat Brigade

Marvi Memon

Marvi Memon (PML-Q) has been making quite a name for herself lately. Her recent statements saying that we should get the facts before making a martyr of Dr Aafia has certainly raised the blood pressure of drawing room politicos. What’s crazy is that what she’s saying really isn’t even that controversial – just that we should have the facts before we make a judgment. She still calls for the Aafia to be returned to Pakistan, she just thinks that we should find out for ourselves what the truth is. But since when has the truth mattered to the Ghairat Brigade?

Writing for Express Tribune this week MNA Memon said,

Having heard plenty of evidence corroborating Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s alleged links to CIA and al Qaeda, from all those who had held important and relevant posts then and now, it became incumbent on me not to follow the herd. It became necessary for me to call a spade a spade and for that reason I was not part of the National Assembly walkout in her favour. Having said that, I have always maintained that she should be brought back to Pakistan and be tried here because she is a Pakistani, even though there are doubts that she may now have American nationality. Her trial in the US was far from fair with many human rights violations against her, but till allegations against her dangerous links are proven wrong she could not be called ‘qaum ki beti’. I also added that real leadership did not ‘cash in’ on wrong popular moods.

Real leadership may not ‘cash in’ on wrong popular moods, but too often our elites – especially in the media – do just that. Fasi Zaka called out these elites on their hypocrisy last week in his column, “The Aafia Mafia”:

I have a friend who works in the production unit of Pakistan’s most watched channels, and she told me an interesting anecdote that when the verdict was announced for Dr Aafia (not the sentencing which has been done separately now) the news team all thought Dr Aafia was not entirely innocent because of other facts in the case, but when they went on air they agreed to do so with the unequivocal line that she was innocent.

I imagine politicians are in the same boat, even if they have doubts, voicing that opinion is almost like a taboo. I suspect it has to do with the same line of logic that causes many to be inadvertent sympathisers of the Pakistani Taliban despite their bloody war against Pakistani citizens. Any overt sense of religious symbolism throws out rationality in a sense of what could loosely be described as “catholic guilt”.

Of course, throwing logic and reason out the window and hyperventilating about conspiracy theories is a popular pastime, and so we saw all sorts of attacks on Marvi Memon even in the National Assembly where all manner of people from various parties knocked each other over trying to get on the bandwagon first.

Her statement invited harsh criticism of the parliamentarians not only those of PML-N but her party colleagues also criticised her and condemned her statement, saying she is following the agenda of other forces including NGOs. Sheikh Rohail Asghar of PML-N said that US courts could not prove any allegation of terrorism against her. Dr Aafia is a woman and victim of oppression, he said.

This has got to stop. Not the defense of Dr Aafia, not the statements by Marvi Memon and Fasi Zaka…I’m talking about the way that every time there is some difficult or controversial situation, we through all reason out the window and go off half cocked.

You can agree or disagree with Marvi Memon, but you don’t have to accuse her for having her own opinions. If we allow ourselves to get carried away on the Ghairat Brigade bandwagon. We need reasonable and civil discourse in this country, and what we’re seeing around the Dr Aafia case is not it.

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