Most commentators do not take women parliamentarians seriously, especially those nominated to seats reserved for them in various legislative houses. It is widely believed that, spared the heat and dust of a directly contested election, these 'token representatives' remain clueless of 'ground realities.'
However, since the year 2002 we have witnessed many of our women parliamentarians demolishing this dismissive perception with sweating homework and courageous association with human rights related issues.
Marvi Memon is an iconic example of this category. True, she came into politics under the patriarchal wings of military dictator Pervez Musharraf, but his fall has not aborted her growth.
During the elections for a newly formed Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly in early 2010, she savoured an intensive exposure to the rough and tumble of electoral battles. She also took lead in owning and promoting the cause of flood victims, and is always found amongst the front ranks of activists struggling for the marginalised in the feudal-dominated pockets of Sindh.
Speaking on point of order during Tuesday's sitting, however, she left many of her admirers disappointed.
The sitting was reserved for individual initiatives for legislation. However, most of our representatives preferred wasting the day talking about 'this or that' issue of their constituency through the desultory raising of points of order.
Ms Memon availed the same opportunity and tried to agitate over the blockade of roads leading to Parachinar, which could have been passable – if she had finished there.
Unfortunately, a low level delegation from the US State of Georgia was present in the Speaker's gallery and instead of welcoming the guests with the usual sweet talk, Memon decided to take them on with a vengeance.
Being well-educated, she did not need to be taught to fathom the fact that the 'provincial level' guests in the gallery have nothing to do with defence-related decisions made in Washington. Yet, she wailed over the "violation of our sovereignty" via drone attacks and finished her delirious diatribe with a comment that almost suggested that the Georgian legislators were not welcome in this country.
And all this while, she forgot to her convenience that only a while back she was moaning over the blockade of all roads to Parachinar. Obviously, the Americans have not blocked the route. Pakistanis cannot simply go there because some of our "strategic assets" from Afghanistan are obsessed with converting the area into another operational base for waging Jihad.
Sadly, drones are striking places that had already been denied to our state and people by the same assets.
Honing a would-be-populist in her, Ms Memon should perhaps not care for the fine and delicate details connected to a crowd swaying issue. One would still be willing to believe that she made the rude remarks in a 'high' state of mind that she must have been savouring since addressing the drone-preventing dharna that Imran Khan staged in Peshawar during the weekend.
Notwithstanding the venomous remarks and posturing of Ms Memon against the government and its friends in Washington, journalists and legislators, huddled in parliamentary lobbies and ministerial chambers, kept discussing the pros and cons of an 'almost done deal' between the PPP and the PML-Q.
Most keenly discussed was a newspaper report that had claimed that none other than the younger brother of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Wajahat, would end up in the Governor House of Lahore after the maturing of the said deal. Despite combing various sources, no confirmation was received regarding this piece of information.
However, a reliable source told me that a minister considered "too close to President Zardari" these days had 'planted' this news to upset "Kaira-types of dropped ministers", reportedly eyeing for the interior ministry in their next turn to the cabinet.
The source also did not hesitate to share that 'someone big' from PML-Q seems ready for taking over the ministry of defence. The late Rao Sikandar Iqbal had asked for the same ministry from his hostel-friend, Musharraf, for leading a group of turncoats from the PPP for supporting the election of Jamali as the Prime Minister in 2002. With the additional title of a 'senior minister', he was given the requested portfolio, which he held on to until the completion of the term of Shaukat Aziz's government.
The PIA board, I was told, is to begin meeting in Islamabad from April 27. For the first time, the national flag carrier is expected to announce 'profits' during the scheduled meeting. "At the end of which", my source insisted, "Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar will submit his resignation from the ministry of defence to President Zardari, telling him that 'I have achieved the task of turning around PIA'."
Don't get me wrong, though. I am not saying that Chaudhry Mukhtar will quit the cabinet. No, no. He will just 'vacate' the ministry of defence for someone else, if my source proves to be right in the end.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2011.