Those who have made it through the ballot box (or otherwise), legally or illegally, supposedly represent Pakistan and its people. At least, that is what is expected. That at the moment in all the assemblies and in the Senate we are inundated by undesirables, who should be elsewhere cashing in on everything other than the national exchequer, is not surprising. Political and moral talent is hard to come by — even in shorter supply than the country’s electric power.
Undoubtedly, we need to be out with the old and somehow get in with the new. The old and tarnished have to be rejected if politics and governance (which is what it is all about) are to get anywhere. We desperately need young blood. But it must be young blood with no baggage attached and sense in the upper storey.
The newly appointed foreign minister, child-bride of the foreign office, has made her historic trip to India. Just how did she represent Pakistan? By making a fashion statement and exhibiting questionable taste when representing a country in hock up to its shattered eyeballs, deep in debt to much of the world, with a sizeable percentage of its population sub-existing below the poverty line, with almost 100,000 families still bereft of permanent shelter after last year’s floods, with distress and distrust stalking the land, and a government said to be out of favour — even disliked — by the majority of its swelling populace?
She was elected to parliament in 2002 on the shoulders of her feudal family and faithfully served the government of general Pervez Musharraf throughout its tenure. She moved over from a failed party to the sympathy vote-winning PPP in 2008 and has now seemingly been rewarded, as the party co-chairman cum head of state is in favour (and rightly so) of promoting women in politics.
But is a Birkin bag, or for that matter anything to do with Hermes, representative of Pakistan? What has it to do with this country apart from the fact that a large bevy of begums with more money than nous possess one or several? The foreign minister herself reportedly has two — one large and very expensive black on show in India and, unfamiliar to the public, one tan. Did she have to flaunt the black, along with the other pricey accessories which have been calculated as having cost “upwards of $30,000 or 30 years worth of toil for the average Pakistani citizen”?
That’s fine that she has money, she can spend it how she likes, but it would be advisable not to brandish it when representing a near-failing country on the international stage — and particularly in India where rather than fashion statements we needed more, much more — definitely more than the somewhat anodyne traditional stuff she trotted out.
No one grudges the foreign minister her baubles, but let them be sported in the right places, in the plush salons of Lahore and Islamabad, in the Polo Lounge — at anytime other than when representing this unfortunate country.
Reportedly (and let it be denied) she is one of the 25 cabinet ministers in the disgraceful cabinet of the wooden, well-tailored dummy, Yousuf Raza Gilani who pays no income tax. Over the past years all she has, reportedly again, contributed to her country is agricultural tax of Rs7,500 per annum.
The danger is the example she has set. Our people’s representatives who now flop around the world at our expense will probably do their damndest to keep up with young Khar and jazz themselves up. Shopping bags returning to the country will multiply. As it is most of them have dyed hair (badly dyed), one exception being the turfed-out snappily dressed Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who went along with Mother Nature and thus looked far more normal, than his Cherry Blossom compatriots.
Those dabbling in foreign affairs would do well to read Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “The New Foreign Policy Frontier” published in the July 2011 issue of the Atlantic Monthly. (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/07/the-new-foreign-policy-frontier/242593/)
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2011.