Mutthida-e-Qaumi Movement (MQM), a key coalition partner in the PPP-led government, on Sunday lamented that women are "treated worse than animals" in Pakistan as the party held a massive rally in southern Sindh's provincial capital to highlight the need to empower them.
Thousands of women and girls in colourful dresses and waving the MQM flags thronged to the Bagh-e-Quaid Azam near the mausoleum of Pakistan's founding leader MA Jinnah.
Addressing the rally from London over phone, MQM chief Altaf Hussain, who has been in self exile in the UK, demanded more rights for Pakistani women.
"The world over women are considered equals in every sense. Unfortunately and sadly in Pakistan they continue to be treated worse than animals," Hussain said.
"Women in Pakistan are subjected to treatment meted out to second-or-third-class citizens. Worse, they are treated like animals. Crimes like honour killing, wani and marriage to the Quran are rampant under the veil of tradition," he lamented.
He mentioned honour killing, Karo Kari, acid crimes and domestic violence and even brought up topics like dowry and gender discrimination which are considered the social norm.
"The perpetrators of Karo Kari and acid crime should be hanged," Hussain said.
According to analysts, the rally in a country where women continue to be marginalised politically, was an attempt to attract women from the middle and lower classes in the country to the party fold.
He challenged the political and religious parties "to try to organize a rally of this magnitude".
"Those talking about revolution should come and see this revolution of women," he said at the rally with the theme, Empowerment to women -- a better Pakistan.