Shireen Mazari’s departure from the political landscape has left a void, as she was a formidable force and one of the few strong women in politics. While other politicians have also left the PTI recently due to their involvement in the riots following Imran Khan’s arrest, Mazari’s exit has had the most profound impact.
Mazari, the former human rights minister, was known for her bold and unapologetic demeanor. She didn’t shy away from expressing her opinions and acted according to her own will, regardless of what others thought.Despite facing sexist attacks and criticism for upholding democratic principles, she remained resolute and fearless. Mazari worked on crucial issues such as ‘missing persons’ and fought against human rights abuses, earning a reputation as a vocal advocate.
Her decision to leave politics at such a turbulent time is cause for reflection and lamentation. Regardless of one’s support for the PTI, the treatment of its leaders and supporters should be a cause for concern. Mazari’s departure raises troubling questions about the limited space for female representation in Pakistani politics, further narrowing the already small opportunities for women at the top.
Mazari’s exit came after enduring five arrests and immense turmoil for her family, especially her daughter, Imaan Mazari-Hazir, who faced unjust attacks on social media.
It is important to remember that Imaan, despite her legal expertise, was primarily a daughter fighting for her mother’s release and should not be subjected to criticism.
Comparisons between PTI women leaders and Benazir Bhutto’s time in jail have been unfavorably made. While both have faced hardships, it is essential not to glorify struggle or pain, regardless of the duration spent behind bars. No one should have to endure what Benazir went through, including current PTI leaders. Accountability should not be conflated with cruelty.
Although we may not have always agreed with Mazari’s politics, we admired her courage and conviction. She chose to be a warrior rather than a damsel in distress. The fact that her final act as a warrior could be reduced to a routine press conference is disheartening and discouraging for all women in politics.