If you have not been following the soap opera that is Pakistani politics in the last month, you should. Between exiling one corrupt ex-prime minister (Nawaz Sharif) while letting another equally corrupt one to return (Benazir Bhutto), it’s quite a sordid tale.
It now gets worse, with Musharraf’s wife planning to run as a “proxy” candidate, and Nawaz Sharif’s wife trying to do the same, it seems to be a battle of famous wives and mothers.
Military ruler Pervez Musharraf is all set to do a Lalu on the hapless nation, foisting his wife Sehba as a proxy presidential candidate to get around the constitutional and judicial hurdles he faces. Under a formula hammered out under Uncle Sam’s watchful eyes, Sehba Musharraf will be a cover candidate for Musharraf in the upcoming Presidential poll, with or without Benazir Bhutto running for Prime Minister. The military government will also allow exiled prime minister Nawaz Sharief’s wife Kulsoom Nawaz to return to Pakistan and run for election if she wishes maintaining that she is not bound by the exile arrangement that has kept her husband and his brother out of the country.
The “Lalu” reference is to a rather notorious Indian politician, Lalu Prasad Yadav, while mired in corruption charges, put his rather inexperienced wife Rabri Devi in charge of the state he was governing.
I guess, this is one way for women to get to power, though not the best way, I guess. South Asia has had (to my count) 5 elected women heads of state in the last 40 years. They have all been either daughters or wives of men previously in power. More importantly, they have all proven to be their own people in the end.
Indira Gandhi – Daughter of Nehru
Benazir Bhutto – daughter of Zulfikar Bhutto
Khaleda Zia – wife of Ziaur Rehman
Hasina Wazed – Daughter of Mujibur Rehman
Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga – Daughter of Solomon Bandaranaike.
Well, while this is strange and dynastic, it is atleast refreshing that the daughters of famous men find power in South Asia. In most other countries, the monarchy is patrilineal!