Life with a Stigma: Politicians With Shame, Calumny, Slur, Disrespect, Aversion And Hatred From Others
26 June 2016
By Saeed Qureshi
A stigmatized life is the most traumatized life. A stigmatized
person carries with him shame, calumny, slur, disrespect, aversion and hatred
from others. Such a person is treated by the community to be a social pariah
while in return he or she turns mostly apologetic, aggressive and avoids
others.It depends upon the level of the sensibilities of a person, how much
miserable or wretched he or she feels or how they take the stigma attached to
However, not all stigmas are factual. Some are
fabricated for maligning others or for vendetta. Some are genuine and some
germinate from misunderstanding. These misunderstandings are caused by a word,
phrase, joke or a comment that can be interpreted both negatively and
positively leading to the appreciation or aspersion on one's character.
The stigma right or wrong can seldom be erased and becomes
permanent part of the name and image of the target. It follows him throughout
his life like a shadow. A maliciously or wrongly stigmatized person cannot go
to everyone to explain the truth and therefore, remains a victim despite being
Once born, the bad name or stigma gets
wings and reaches maximum numbers that continue rising. The humans have a
propensity to exaggerate the spicy information particularly digging at some
one's character and personality. It is utterly impossible to clarify the
misunderstanding to everyone.
bureaucrats, VIPs, big business tycoons, army generals, aristocrats, clerics,
poets, philosophers, journalists, writers, actors, artists and members of
other groups carry some kind of stigma or infamy tagged with their names.
On the lower levels in schools, colleges, hospitals, public and private
institutions and working places, there are individuals who are marked or known
by some error, some habit, some felony, some mistake, some flaw or wrong doing
or a statement or utterance that earned them the lifelong millstone of stigma.
The kings, queens, rulers and famous personages in the past carry stigmas with
The higher one is in status, the more he
is talked about his questionable actions or for the particular flaws in his
character. People have a propensity to talk of shortcomings more than
mentioning someone by good traits.
Tony Blair, the
former Tory prime minister got the nickname of a ''poodle'' of the former
American president G.W. Bush which he cannot never get rid of in his lifetime
and even afterwards.
Social stigma is also related to the sacrosanct social taboos and customs
whose violation can bring someone a bad name that keep him in lurid colors for
all times. Social stigmas come to the lot of those people who defy or break
the traditional norms of morality and day to day ethics.
While the religious beliefs may be condoned or occasionally
overlooked, the social stigma based on misconduct or immodesty cannot be taken
lightly and remain indelible blot on the character or image of the concerned
A physically deformed person such as a
leper may draw more sympathy than a stigma. A rapist, a homosexual, a thief, a
liar, a bad tempered or a grumpy person, a miser, a man with a incest backlog,
a murderer, and individual with similar human failings and negative leanings,
carry forever the disgrace of a social stigma either in their locality or on a
broader spectrum depending upon their social leverage.
In human set up such remarks and strictures as ''he is a
serpent, don't trust him'' or ''he is a Shylock'' or a ''backbiter'' or a
''heathen'', ''hypocrite'', ''bootlegger'', ''homosexual'', ''pimp'', a
''womanizer'', a ''gay'', a ''drug addict'', a ''cattle lifter'' , a ''fake
saint'', and a ''swindler'' are common to portray the shady, irksome or
repulsive character of a person. These are the abominable social stigmas.
A sensitive person labeled with an untrue stigma based on
hearsay or purposely framed for defamation suffers from a nagging guilty
conscience and self- condemnation. A highly placed person under the gnawing
pinch of a stigma either turns socially hostile, recluse or overly obliging
He tries to please the people in doling out favors by using his authority. He
believes under the erroneous belief, that by placating others, the common
impression about him would thus be nullified or diluted. But it seldom
The recipients of his favors tend to exploit
him or her more and in their private conversations they ridicule and castigate
him or her more. The others stigma targets turn thick-skinned and obdurate.
Stigma can be broadly divided into three categories: the
personal, the local, and the historical or universal. The kind of stigma that
falls under the personal category carries such insinuations as gluttony,
jealousy, drunkenness, bad temper, miserliness, loose talking, cynicism,
superstition, bootlegging, backbiting, emotional flare-up, foul mouthing and
But more serious stigmas delve on such base
attributes as incest, lewdness, financial or moral corruption, un-patriotism,
treason, fornication, homosexuality, prostitution, secular or atheistic
outlook towards religion and so on.
Some of the
personal stigmas also overlap with the local stigma. Yet there are peculiar
features of the local stigma that target a culture, a country, a specific
cultural or ethnic group, a segment of population or a region.
In Indian and Pakistani context, there are several political
leaders defamed and rebuked for certain gross misdeeds that will go along with
their names as inerasable stigmas and disgrace. Pakistan's first military
dictator Field Marshall Ayub Khan in his waning phase of power was labeled
with a nickname that cannot be mentioned for reasons of modesty.
Former, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan is demonized as
selling Pakistanis for bounty money, if not for killing Baluch leader Akbar
Khan Bugti or storming an Islamic school in Islamabad.
Ziaul Haq another military dictator has gone in history for
plotting and engineering legal murder of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
and ushering Pakistan into a culture of drugs and Kalashnikovs.
As prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif is accused of
abetting the storming of the Supreme Court building and manhandling the then
chief justice of Pakistan. In India, Rajiv Gandhi would bear the stigma of
bribe in the purchase scandal of Bofors Guns.
Narasimha Rao, another Indian prime minister would be remembered for grafts
and bribe charges and Indira Gandhi for attacking the Sikh holy shrine in
Amritsar besides imposition of emergency. President of United States, Richard
Nixon, despite his lofty accomplishments, had to disgracefully resign due to
his involvement in the Water Gate scandal.
American president Bill Clinton' image remains tarnished due to lewd Monika
Lewinsky affair. The Roman emperor Nero is stigmatized for his abhorrent act
of playing flute while the eternal city of Rome was burning.
A famous Urdu poet (Inshaullah Khan) of classical poetry turned
a miserable wretch by uttering one sentence that patently denigrated his
patron, a famous Nawab and local suzerain of wealthy state in India during the
British colonial rule.
Inashullah Khan Insha was the
court poet, jester and a personal friend of Nawab Saadat Yar Khan. Nawab was
the illegitimate son of one of the concubines of his father.
There was discussion going in the court about a word that
connoted multiple meaning one of which was the son of a harlot. The unlucky
poet in his exuberance uttered the word that aptly meant the son of a
concubine. The Nawab turned the poet out of court, stopped his privileges and
the he died in abject misery.
The Mongol hordes are
known as the human wolves that devoured millions of human beings and pillaged
countless cities. Adolf Hitler is viewed as a monster for massacring 6 million
Jews in Europe. Pick up a history book and you will find almost all the
luminaries besmirched for some mega or minor lapse or misdeed.
The ethnic stigma is labeled against particular races or
nationalities that paint them in ludicrous or clownish colors. The people of
Ireland are idiots for those living in England. The residents of England have
coined countless funny jokes about the Irish people.
In Pakistan as well in India, Pathans, Punjabis, Sikhs and inhabitants of
Rajputana and many other nationalities, races and ethnic entities are stamped
with comic fables and amusing jokes.
Universally or historically, there are many figures that have indelible paint
of stigma with their names.
For instance, the person
who betrayed the Muslim heroic ruler Tipu Sultan of Mysore (1750-1799) (India)
in the Battle of Seringapatam (1799) against the British colonial army was his
prime minister Mir Sadiq, who withdrew the army from the battlefield during
the raging battle.
Tipu Sultan was killed and his rule
came to an end. Mir Sadiq is treated as a contemptible creature and a
despicable traitor by the Muslims of India for all time to come.
Mir Jaffar, a Commander of the Muslim army of Nawab of Bengal,
Siraj-ud-Daulah (1733-1757), has earned the lasting notoriety for his
treachery. He was secretly in league with British army commander Robert Clive.
He advised Sirajuddola to withdraw his forces and stop fighting against the
British army in the battle of Plassey (1757). That resulted in the defeat of
Nawab and later his execution by the son of Mir Jaffar.
The conspiracies of the grand vizier of an Ummayd caliph in
1258 prompted the Mongol warrior Hilaku Khan to attack Baghdad. The barbarian
invader burnt and massacred the entire population of this bustling city.
Yazid the son of powerful Ummayd caliph Muawiyah would be
cursed and condemned by Shia community for mercilessly killing the family of
the prophet including his grandson Hussein, at Karbala near Baghdad in 680 A.
It has been observed that many stigmas come out of
mere hearsay, social gossip or misinterpretation of a certain situation, a
write up, a speech or an unguarded utterance that can be variously
For instance Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's famous
comment during the 1971 crisis, ''Uthar Tum, and Ithar Hum'' has been
interpreted by his opponents to divide Pakistan.
Another remark ''eliminate him'' written by him in one of the files relating
to Ahmed Raza Kauri, constituted the evidence for initiating murder case
against him that resulted in his death on gallows. Now ''eliminate him'' can
be interpreted in many ways.
A powerful and prestigious position as the head of the state, instead of
erasing or diminishing the onus of stigma, on the contrary, enhances it.
''The higher one goes the steeper one falls'' is the adage.
That is why the political and prominent figures get a heavy share of rebuke
and diatribe than commoners for their follies because they are exposed and
their moves and actions lay bare before the people.
The Chairman of Pakistan People's Party and formerly the president of Pakistan
Zardari's nickname of ''10 percent'' outshines his good parts of personality.
For instance he believes and practices the culture of friendship like an
article of faith. He is famed for never ditching his friends barring political
allies or coalition partners. He is fond of glamorous, hilarious and joyful
He laughs heartily, has a knack for
fascinating conversations and interjects his conversation with humor and
pleasant anecdotes. In a way he is a spendthrift too and prodigality is
ingrained in his character. But his corruption suppresses the endearing traits
of his personality.
Stigma weakens the confidence of a
person and renders him docile and an escapist avoiding public places and
social congregations. So the lesson is that one must always remain on guard
because one slip of tongue or one carelessly or casually done act can ruin his
life and turn him or her into a social pariah. The stigma once created never
recedes and instead keeps snow-balling. That is why sages have cautioned that
''think before you speak and watch before you leap.''
Note: This article previously published in my blog dated July 2, 2011 has been
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a
former diplomat. This and other articles by the
writer can also be read at his blog www.uprightopinion.com.