KARACHI: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had made headlines ever since he was sworn in as the top judge in 2017. Set to retire on January 19, Justice Nisar is leaving behind quite a legacy. It will be hard to forget him for many things, including his crowd-funding campaign to build dams and the corruption case which landed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in jail. But mostly, and surely, he will be remembered for his liberal use of suo motu powers.
According to a report in The Express Tribune, Justice Nisar wrapped up at least 70 suo motu cases by September 2018. Though the exact number of the suo motu notices he took remains unknown, we figured, while he’s at it, he could perhaps take a notice of some of these issues too:
1. Banning women from sitting side-saddled on motorcycles
Look, we get it; it’s next to impossible for ordinary Pakistani women to antagonise patriarchal mindsets and defy the norm of sitting on a motorcycle with their legs perched on the side. As women, we experience a lot of pressure, internally and externally, when we decide to sit on a bike the way bike-riders are supposed to.
Women being the first ones to get hurt in a bike accident is a common occurence. Safety should be a priority for everybody. It should begin from wearing helmets to sitting on a bike properly. It’s common sense, but people will always find excuses.
It sure is a menace that requires action of a super hero level, and a ban should be placed on ANYBODY riding a motorbike side-saddled.
2. Banning brown-bagging of sanitary pads
This is how this idiosyncrasy works: we place the pack of sanitary pads inside a brown bag in general stores and supermarkets to hide it from people even though everybody knows what is inside the brown bag. Why do we feel so uncomfortable while acquiring a basic necessity? Why do we treat menstruation like a dirty little secret?
The issue extends well beyond brown-bagging. Period-shaming has many layers; it hinders adolescent girls and women from speaking up, seeking help and taking care of themselves. In this society, we would rather have a woman suffer in silence over matters of her physical and sexual health than discuss a natural process openly. This human rights issue definitely demands a suo motu action, and it should begin with a surgical attack on the brown-bagging of sanitary pads.
Also, it will be an eco-friendly decision. Just saying.
3. Banning PEMRA from banning movies about women
Piggybacking on the issue of period-shaming, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) banned two movies in 2018 that revolved around women’s lives. Pemra is notorious for banning any content that is even slightly progressive and questions society’s injustices towards women.
Many Pakistanis took to social media and published blogs with notable media outlets to register their protest and question the authority. But the people behind Pemra remained beyond our reach, almost as hidden as the Illuminati.
A well-kept secret, nobody knows the people who sit on the censor board. But there needs to be a check-and-balance for this monolithic policing body. Its absolute power over what Pakistanis should watch and shouldn’t violates the very fundamental of a democracy. And the only person who can fix this problem is the current chief justice of Pakistan.
4. Making people take parenting classes
Imagine a world where people were able to learn about parenting before bringing a baby into the world. Some of us in this part of the world are obsessed with making babies and not really interested in learning about healthy parenting habits.
Perhaps, if parents did their job right, we would see much less violence in Pakistan.
At the very least, people should be required by law to attend some kind of government-sponsored parenting classes before they engage in unprotected sex. And since Pakistanis do not have children out of wedlock (mostly), perhaps the clause for attending parenting classes should become a part of the prenuptial agreement aka the nikkahnama.
It’s just an idea. Let’s face it: Pakistan’s overpopulation crisis is beyond fixable — the least we can do is have parents raise better children.
5. Banning celebrities from speaking irresponsibly about #MeToo
Something really needs to be done about celebrities who speak irresponsibly regarding sexual harassment and sexual violence.
With actor Hamza Ali Abbasi misconstruing playful flirting with sexual harassment, supermodel Sadaf Kanwal making naive comments about survivors not speaking up ‘on time’, veteran actor Javed Sheikh saying “some women get #MeToo done on themselves” — it has become an additional impediment for any survivor of sexual violence to come forward.
When people of influence make reckless comments about serious issues, it hampers the progress of Pakistan.
If anybody can fix these social problems, it has to be this renegade. Though under scrutiny for his bold moves, we truly believe that Justice Nisar did not choose the #thuglife, the #thuglife chose him.