BREAKING NEWS : Motorcycle driver critically hurt after Fort Wayne crash Full Story

Khan addresses voters after claiming victory

Former cricket star Imran Khan addressed his supporters after claiming victory in Pakistan's disputed elections.

Posted: Jul 27, 2018 9:00 AM
Updated: Jul 27, 2018 9:50 AM

If, as Imran Khan claims, his party -- the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) -- is victorious in the Pakistani general election, the women of that nation may face a disastrous era of gender discrimination and repression.

The clues that Khan's ascent bodes poorly for Pakistani women can be found in the lead-up to the election. In one recent interview with Hum news, Khan denounced Western feminism as an impediment to motherhood. And his promise of making Pakistan an Islamic state, something that has in the past meant heightened restrictions on women, is also making Pakistani feminists shudder.

Ironically, it was the July 6, 2018, conviction of a woman, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, and her father, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, for corruption that made room for Khan's victory. With his main opponents sitting in Adiala Jail, there was nothing to stop him.

Leaders from Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League alleged election rigging even before the polls opened. Others pointed fingers at Pakistan's meddlesome military, which may benefit from Khan, a Pashtun Prime Minister, if elected, who could quell any residual Taliban rebellions and orchestrate post-conflict peace. Though Khan denies suggestions that he's the military preferred candidate.

If Khan keeps his pro-military stance and wants to appease the militants within the country, his Pakistan will not be a progressive country committed to gender equality. Religious hardliners in Pakistan have, in the past, opposed legislation that criminalizes domestic violence, saying that would "westernize" society. They are unlikely to change this stance.

And many of these extremist hardliners have now been empowered by Khan claiming victory in Pakistan's disputed elections. They include Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, one of the early leaders in the anti-Soviet mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s -- which eventually gave birth to the Taliban and al Qaeda. Khalil also led, according to Pakistani newspaper Dawn, a designated terrorist organization that has since been banned by the government.

The mission of Khalil's group, which speedily announced support for Khan's PTI after meeting one of its top leaders,Asad Umar, includes putting an "end [to] secularist, obscene and risqué culture on media" and giving "support to fighters" that are safeguarding the respect of the Holy Prophet. That "support" included pushing for the release of Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin who shot down Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, in 2011 because Taseer had the temerity to defend a Christian woman accused of blasphemy. (Qadri was eventually executed, but hailed as a martyr at his funeral attended by thousands of people.)

In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the province that Khan's PTI party controlled, 277 million rupees were allotted to the Darul-Uloom Haqqania, a religious seminary known to have links with the Tehreek-e-Taliban, a militant group that some PTI member have links to.

If these religious hardliners, who share Khan's anti-Americanism and ultra-nationalism, make up the dominant voice in a PTI-led government, it will be game over for Pakistani women.

Religious hardliners want to implement Sharia law and have long supported increased prosecutions under the Zina and Hudood Ordinances of 1979, which criminalize adultery and fornication. Vaguely written, the laws institute sentences of lashings and even stoning to death -- and have been used to imprison women at the mere accusation of illicit behavior.

Increased prosecutions under these laws, which equate control of women as being authentically Islamic and doggedly anti-Western, will destroy the legal and political progress Pakistani women have made in recent years. When women's progress is seen as a western concept, the result is unending suffering and retrogression for all Pakistani women who want to move toward gender equality.

Khan's personal life is not a repository of hope either. His second wife, Reham Khan, made accusations of domestic abuse when the pair divorced (Khan denies the claim). And, there was the scandal from August, when Ayesha Gulalai, a young lawmaker from Khan's own PTI, alleged that Khan had sent her indecent and inappropriate text messages. Khan denied the allegations and the PTI women'a wing threatened to send her to a tribal council for judgment if she didn't withdraw them.

But Khan could choose to sideline Islamist hardliners and refuse to use restrictions on the visibility of women as symbols of his political power. To silence feminist critics who are dreading Khan's promised "change" and anti-Western rhetoric as a disavowal of women's rights, Khan could install PTI women in important positions within his cabinet. Selecting a woman as Pakistan's Foreign Minister or Interior Minister or both would send a message of hope and inspiration to all Pakistani women.

Khan could also avoid the petulance of previous Pakistani leaders who seek to immediately undo the reforms of their predecessors as soon as they come into power. Take Punjab's Women Protection Law, which has allowed for the criminalization of domestic violence. The resources the law has provided at the district level has allowed for the arrest of abusers and their public shaming.

Opposed by religious hardliners, the law has been a crucial intervention in a country where every second a woman reports facing violence in the home. If Khan wants to represent all Pakistanis, women included, he should expand the Punjab legislation to the whole country.

It is also possible that Khan will choose this latter path. Many Pakistani expatriates living in the United States and United Kingdom have supported his candidacy, arguing that his program for a self-sufficient Pakistan, no longer dominated by the usual cadre of feudal and industrialist families, is compelling. Khan's commitment to these expats is evident in the PTI manifesto, which devotes a separate section to them. This constituency, interested in a visibly progressive Pakistan that is a part of the international community, could serve as a check on religious hardliners and pressure Khan to take an inclusive stance toward women.

Pakistani women know never to expect much from their leaders, scarred as they are by continual disappointments. Perhaps Khan has been waiting to win before he commits to improving the lot of his nation's women. If that is so, then this is the time to do it, take a stand as a pro-women prime minister whose anti-feudal and anti-corruption platform ushers not a regressive dystopia where Pakistani women must hide and huddle, but one in which they can proudly rise and lead.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 31715

Reported Deaths: 1984
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9189533
Lake3299167
Cass15826
Allen127766
St. Joseph117034
Hendricks112367
Hamilton109992
Johnson1082104
Elkhart100827
Madison58258
Porter48721
Bartholomew48033
Clark45838
LaPorte40821
Tippecanoe3733
Jackson3611
Howard35618
Delaware35434
Hancock31927
Shelby31421
Floyd31338
Boone28235
Morgan26124
Vanderburgh2482
Montgomery22717
White2268
Decatur22431
Clinton2151
Noble18520
Grant18520
Harrison18521
Dubois1822
Greene16723
Warrick16426
Dearborn16221
Monroe16010
Henry1597
Vigo1477
Lawrence14322
Miami1391
Putnam1337
Jennings1274
Orange12422
Scott1183
Ripley1126
Franklin1068
Carroll922
Kosciusko861
Daviess8216
Steuben792
Newton7410
Wabash722
Wayne695
Fayette654
Marshall641
LaGrange602
Jasper561
Washington521
Fulton471
Rush452
Jay430
Jefferson411
Randolph403
Pulaski390
Clay391
Whitley392
Brown331
Sullivan321
Starke313
Owen311
DeKalb291
Perry270
Huntington262
Benton250
Knox240
Crawford230
Wells230
Tipton221
Blackford201
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Parke170
Posey170
Spencer161
Gibson142
Ohio130
Adams121
Warren121
Vermillion90
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0152

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 32477

Reported Deaths: 1987
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin5310237
Cuyahoga3963217
Marion261921
Hamilton2458128
Lucas2126229
Pickaway204335
Mahoning1341169
Summit1236159
Butler80225
Stark68589
Lorain64858
Columbiana60950
Montgomery60515
Trumbull52942
Belmont39012
Miami34830
Warren33619
Tuscarawas3182
Portage31458
Medina30219
Delaware30013
Ashtabula28132
Wood27645
Lake26811
Geauga25729
Wayne25050
Fairfield2403
Clark2236
Licking20710
Allen19131
Mercer1903
Clermont1885
Richland1863
Erie1575
Darke15316
Madison1347
Washington11718
Crawford1043
Morrow1041
Greene935
Ottawa917
Putnam8714
Monroe7111
Sandusky6810
Ross662
Hocking654
Auglaize643
Jefferson622
Huron551
Williams521
Hancock481
Muskingum450
Union450
Clinton430
Hardin410
Shelby412
Logan370
Fayette370
Wyandot362
Fulton360
Defiance322
Guernsey310
Preble301
Carroll282
Lawrence280
Holmes271
Champaign261
Brown251
Coshocton240
Knox231
Vinton191
Seneca192
Ashland180
Highland181
Perry181
Scioto150
Henry150
Athens141
Paulding130
Jackson110
Harrison100
Adams81
Gallia71
Pike60
Meigs60
Morgan50
Noble50
Van Wert50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 72°
Angola
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 70°
Huntington
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 68°
Decatur
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 68°
Van Wert
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
Pop-Up Storms Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events