If we were to tell the story of a Pakistani man, the story of Fauzia Azeem would suffice.

She was born in a family where educating girls was a rarity. When relatives fumed over Fauzia going to school, her father did not say anything. Her mother had to put her foot down and silence the opposition. Her father, did not say anything. Later, when she got lost and was brought back home by Edhi sb, she was not allowed to go to school anymore. Indeed, a decision made by her father and brothers. Now, finally, they’d put their foot down and decreed that Fauzia would forever live a life without education, for one childish mistake of hers.

She was married to a man who was abusive to her. The man had right to be so, or so goes the social norm. The wife of the house must not react and ensure the sanctity and privacy of family affairs; or so goes the social norm. However, she was different. She ran away. But, at a price. She had to let go of her son. Apparently, he was more his than hers. At least, that’s what the religious scholars say. The same abusive husband would come back in the story when he’d see an opportunity to get some form of fame. During those days he would show the media pictures of their marriage and will give interviews. And then there will be more men claiming courtship and dedicating their narratives to shame her for her character. For men, staying silent about familial affairs is hardly necessary.

And then there were the other men, the men in the audience who keenly followed the interviews. These men also heard the interview of Fauzia Azeem, her voice breaking as she described her abusive domestic past. The men naturally believed that the husbands’ versions were truer. At least, so far as social norms are concerned.

Fauzia Azeem escaped her husband and came to ‘the city’. It had been a dream of hers, one that sounds rather fantastical for many more women who are born in the same setting as her. She came here alone. Only a brave woman could have done that. She came and she conquered and soon became the superstar she had always dreamed of becoming. She became Qandeel Baloch.

The name, as she explained herself, was chosen for the baggage that came with it. It warned the men in her life to be wary of their actions. The Baloch clan is vengeful and they are merciless to those who are unfair to them. Fauzia needed the support of a fictitious name to be recognised, respected and not be exploited. This is how the men in Pakistan work.

As Qandeel she became what the society wanted her to be. Nothing more, nothing less. The Pakistani man was the core motivator to the enigma that he obsessed on ridiculing. Qandeel talks about this hypocrisy in many of her videos. In one where she claims she is ill and can barely talk, she rants on why she’s still making the video: ‘I am only making this video because of the many requests. You abuse me a lot as well and then request for more videos too!’

Many men have since criticised her choice of scandalous videos failing to acknowledge that it was, yet again, the Pakistani man who was the vehicle to the fame. It was the Pakistani man who would look at the videos, share them, put raunchy comments under them, request for more. Had the Pakistani man not responded and been as ‘respectful’ as he insists of himself, Qandeel would never have made more videos. Of course, this is not to imply that Qandeel was a passive character in this saga. No. She made a choice, a smart one in context with the audience she was targeting; the society she was targeting. If the Pakistani man is today complaining about her disrupting the social-moral-fabric of his society, he must acknowledge that he is an equal part of the equation. He is as scandalous as Qandeel was.

And then there was the one man who is undoubtedly every Pakistani man who ever lived. The man is Waseem Azeem. Like the many men who are reading this and the man who is writing this, he too grew up embracing the belief that family honor seems to rely more on a woman’s actions than the man’s. He grew up believing that not only did he have the right but the authority to dictate how the females of his family acted. He grew up believing that his decisions carried more weight than that of the females, even if they were about the latter’s personal life, body, future.

Fauzia’s story is a metaphor to the shameful realities of our society. It is a representation of how male oriented our norms are. It is the brazen reminder of the many hypocrisies of the Pakistani man.

Come to think of it, deep down, Fauzia’s story, if anything, is simply the story of the Pakistani woman.