As a result of her dispute last week with Fauzia Behram, Sajida Mir has been dismissed from her role as president of the Lahore chapter of the women’s wing of PPP.
Talking to reporters, Mir said she did not receive any show-cause notice from the party and PPP central leader Faryal Talpur did not inquire about the incident or give her an opportunity to explain her position. Mir said the party had declared her guilty without giving her an opportunity to explain herself, which was wrong.
There is no indication that Sajida Mir was solely responsible for the dispute between her and Fauzia Behram, so it is not clear why she is being singled out and punished in this way. In fact, in newspaper reports of this dispute, it was Fauzia Behram who was reported to have made some very unfortunate remarks regarding Sajida Mir’s social class.
The sources stated Sajida Mir’s criticism on feudals and praise for a PML-N lady MPA irked Fauzia Behram, an influential landowner from Chakwal, who termed Mir a ‘kammi’ (low cast), having no knowledge about the political dynamics of Chakwal, her hometown.
According to insiders, while responding to Behram, Mir asked her to avoid using such word as it was like humiliating PPP voters, majority of whom belonged to a humble background. Moreover, she also demanded Fauzia Behram resign from the seat as she had insulted the common people.
The Daily Times has written an excellent and highly critical editorial about the unfortunate reality that is reflected by Fauzia Behram’s castist slurs against Sajida Mir and by PPP’s own decisions to hold Sajida Mir as solely responsible for this dispute which reflects the elitist nature of PPP’s internal decisions:
That Pakistan has a class-based society cannot be more obvious than by looking at the way our political parties behave as far as party politics is concerned. The PPP’s decision to remove the party’s Women’s Wing Lahore Chapter president, Sajida Mir, from office on disciplinary grounds is a glaring example of how our society is plagued by a class system. The ‘disciplinary’ grounds in this case were only used against one of the members who violated party discipline and not the other one, in this case Ms Fauzia Behram.
The two MPAs had a scuffle on the floor of the Punjab Assembly recently, which included both verbal and physical assaults. Apparently, Ms Mir made a point about polls being rigged more often in the rural areas since most of the people are under the influence of feudals there. She praised a female MPA of the PML-N hailing from Chakwal for winning her seat despite feudal influence over the area. Ms Behram, a feudal who also hails from Chakwal, took umbrage at these anti-feudal comments. A verbal brawl then followed where Ms Behram made some very derogatory comments like dismissing the contribution of ‘kammis’ (low caste) to our politics and by taking a jibe at Ms Mir’s origins, the Landa Bazaar in Lahore. Ms Behram also slapped Ms Mir and threatened her with dire consequences.
Removal of Ms Mir from an important party position shows how hollow the PPP’s claims of being a centre-left party are. When the PPP came into being, it started with a revolutionary programme. This culminated in Mr Z A Bhutto coming to power on the shoulders of the Left, the workers and the peasantry. Soon the party in power was transformed into a feudal fiefdom, leading to Bhutto’s political isolation and subsequent overthrow. When Ms Benazir Bhutto came to power, the party paradigm shifted further right to that of neo-liberalism. After Ms Bhutto’s assassination, the new leadership further transformed the party from its roots by marginalising the genuine workers, or jiyalas as they are more commonly known. Ms Mir is a hardcore party worker who has sacrificed a lot for the PPP. Humiliating her like this while turning a blind eye to Ms Behram’s antics will only alienate the PPP from its mass base in the long run. Class privilege should be discouraged if the PPP wants to survive as a mass party.