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The coverage of Sharmila Farooqi’s nuptials on national media and the hype associated with it had all the hallmarks relevant for a royal fairy tale wedding. The glorification of the ceremony, pictures of opulence and extravagance, and a happy couple starting a new phase – the event represented everything good in life. Unfortunately, these were pictures of beautiful dresses and lavish feasts set in the backdrop of an impoverished country. This is not the first political wedding on which the national media went gaga. A couple of months ago, we had the Imran and Reham Khan wedding madness, that too just a couple of weeks after the horrible Peshawar tragedy. The wedding topped off months long anti-government protests which ended without achieving any of the intended initial goals. Nonetheless, despite the failure, Imran’s life turned for good. The problem for me with all this wedding hoopla is that these politicians have already permeated almost every aspect of our daily lives and now, it seems, they are even encroaching on our social space. Can one even look away from them?
Let me start of by saying that Pakistani politicians enjoy far greater amount of media time and attention than their counterparts in most other countries of the world. They are the equivalent of both Hollywood and the National Football League (NFL) combined – the glamour of one united with the swagger of the other. Along with all of this goes the intoxicating amount of power at their disposal. In a developing country with little transparency and weak watchdogs, the power is not only there to be used but also to abuse. Did I mention that they are as rich as the Bill Gates of a poor country? Of the top five richest people in Pakistan, one is the current prime minister and other is the former president. Hence, from rock stars to intellectuals, from riches to fame, the incredible strangle hold of the Pakistani political elite on this penurious nation is remarkable. Very few are as lucky as the ‘chosen’ ones in Pakistan. And then we have events like this Cinderella-wedding topping it off. The question that begs to be asked is, since they dominate our social landscape, should they serve as role models for us to follow? Many politicians have corruption charges against them. Sharmila Farooqi’s father, Usman Farooqi, was charged with corruption and embezzlement of a whopping Rs195 billion. It was finally the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) that brought respite to the family among many others. Corruption aside, competence too is not their biggest virtue.
The writer is a technology management professional who is pursuing his PhD in management. He has working experience in the areas of consulting and telecommunications. Former assistant manager at Telenor Pakistan, he is an MBA from LUMS and is currently on Fulbright Scholarship at Rutgers Business School, Newark, New Jersey. He tweets as @ussamayaqub (twitter.com/ussamayaqub)