Home Latest News Shahbaz Sharif Apologizes for Insensitive Speech On Motorway Gang-Rape

Shahbaz Sharif Apologizes for Insensitive Speech On Motorway Gang-Rape

by Newsweek Pakistan
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File photo. Rizwan Tabassum—AFP

PMLN president says he was unable to ‘properly contextualize’ credit for motorway construction while condemning crime

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif on Tuesday apologized for “insensitive” remarks about the Lahore motorway gang-rape after his speech attracted widespread outrage and condemnations.

“Since this incident took place at the Sialkot motorway, I think it would not be inappropriate to say that this motorway was also built under Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s supervision by the PMLN [Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)],” he told Parliament on Monday.

The speech went viral on social media, with critics demanding he apologize and questioning how he could ever consider it “appropriate” to claim credit for the construction of a motorway that had been the site of a gang-rape.

As the outrage mounted, lawmakers of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf continued their seeming defense of the victim-blaming voiced by Lahore Capital City Police Officer Umar Sheikh by demanding that Sharif resign in line with calls for the CCPO’s ouster. Despite calls for Sheikh’s ouster over his questioning why the victim had been driving late at night from across society, the PTI maintains that he should not be removed from office. Sen. Faisal Javed even went so far as to criticize the women’s rights groups that had rallied for Sheikh’s removal from office over the weekend by questioning why they were not also demanding Sharif’s resignation.

It shouldn’t need to be said but Sharif has no role in governance or public policy at the moment; his “resignation” would be a largely meaningless gesture. Sheikh, as the head of the police in Pakistan’s second-largest city, has an incredibly powerful role in shaping how cops respond to crimes against women. Of the two, it’s clear which one stands to cause more damage to women’s ease of mind if they continue in their present roles.

Addressing his remarks on Twitter, the PMLN president said: “Couldn’t properly contextualize my comment during National Assembly speech and it came across as insensitive. I didn’t mean it that way and am sincerely sorry for it. I’m devastated like all of you on this unfortunate incident. Hope government now provides security on Sialkot motorway for safety of citizens!”

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