Sharmila Farooqi’s Disney wedding and Pakistan’s plight

Published: March 12, 2015

The much awaited affair boasted tight security as 4,000 guests arrived at the venue. PHOTO: AYSHA SALEEM

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.

Photo: Aysha Saleem

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.

Sindh CM Qaim Ali Shah and Shama Mithani. Photo: Aysha Aaleem

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.

Photo: Aysha Saleem

Only recently we observed the joking and jesting on cyclone Nilofar in the Sindh Assembly. The speaker of the house finally ended the discussion by claiming that a certain sacred shrine will save the city from any storm. In any other democratic country of the world, this attitude would have led to a major shake down. In our country, it was hardly news.

Spare a thought for a moment here for the average Pakistani – the judicious law enforcer, the public prosecutor or the honest teacher who, despite day to day hurdles and difficulties, does his job honestly. Who witnesses this intimidating mixture of power, fame and wealth play on and off the screen on a regular basis but sticks to his principles. Who must have been told clichés like “no one will get caught” and that “this is Pakistan” countless times by people around him with the following words of advice,

“Why don’t you get something out of it for yourself?”

What must that man, if he even exists, be thinking today!

What would be going on in his mind after watching these Disney weddings?

Maybe he too now would understand the raging cynicism surrounding him and might be ruing missed chances of not making hay while the sun was shining.

The problem is not that Pakistani politicians are corrupt. The problem is not that they are incompetent, break the law themselves and abuse their power. I am sure that it must happen in a lot of other countries of the world too. The problem here is that after all this, they go on to stick it in people’s faces by jeering, mocking and flaunting smiling pictures, wearing beautiful wedding dresses.

By having a happy ending regardless of the results!

Photo: Aysha Saleem

The Farooqi story too, it seems, will have a happy ending like so many others do, thanks to the NRO, reconciliation and saving of democracy. Member of the provincial assembly and former advisor to the chief minister of Sindh, Farooqi’s life has turned for good. I wish her the best of luck for the future!

I only wonder though, when will the ‘good guy’ get to ride into the sunset in Pakistan?

Ussama Yaqub

Ussama Yaqub

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 (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • wb

    Congrats on getting a glimpse of the Moghul rule.

    This is how the 1000 year Muslim rule of HINDUS was. Not just HIndus, but most Muslims suffered.

    Only difference is, take this wedding and multiply it by a million.

    But then, this is how the history of Islam and Muslims have been for 1400 years. The kings and Hazrats have enjoyed their like Kings and Hazrats. Ordinary people have bled and died.

    And Pakistanis will continue to suffer and suffer and die in the hands of these rich landlords, Waderas and Chaudhuris.

    This is just the beginning.Recommend

  • Aaliya

    sad sad sad state of affairs indeed. With shameless, corrupt and good-for-nothing rulers like these, it’s hardly surprising why our country is such a laughing stock world-wide. We need a revolution that says no to hypocrisy, and unnecessary opulence at the expense of the people and state of Pakistan. We need these morons ousted.Recommend

  • ZeeVik

    What is the author on about here? Is he against tabloid journalism or the rich in general? What about the extravagant weddings in India? This is by no means unique to pakRecommend

  • SMG

    Bride and Groom both are product of corrupt parents. Their parent have looted our country.Shame on media those are projecting their fame and wealth which belongs to our poor country.Recommend

  • Tariq Nawaz

    Her uncle Mr Farooqi,a former Federal Secretary is one of the richest people in Pakistan( his last posting was Principal Secretary to Pres.Asif Zardari) am not sure if Tribune will print this but the whole Country knows about this.Recommend

  • Prashant

    We might not have had one of the richest of India leading the country but we have had corrupt politicians ruling us both at state and centre. The rich celebrating their marriages bollywood style is also not unique to Pakistan.

    Also, it was shocking to see the speaker making fun of the concern raised by an elected representative.Recommend

  • Bisma Tirmizi

    Fareed Khan Afridi………The writer appears to be raising a very legitimate issue….
    that’s what writers do, they comment on what surrounds them, social issues,
    current events……LIFE. Is Sharmila Farooqi your Chacha’s daughter or Mamoon’s daughter, you defend her with a vengeance and a real passion? As for having a Disney Wedding in a improvised country at the ripe old age of 40 plus (she is a politician, a public figure, that too of a very corrupt father), and not just extravagant, but royalty extravagant……it’s rather nauseous…..Remember Marie Antoinette……maybe the poor dead people of PAKISTAN can eat cake to celebrate the wedding, if they don’t have bread
    As for attacking Ussama’s professional status and his person, from what I read in his bio he appears to be a rather accomplished gentleman… if we can know what your educational qualification is, and what dynamic career awaits you…..Recommend

  • wb

    I don’t disagree. But there’s a major difference. Pakistan is in a state of war.

    I don’t like any kind of extravaganza and wastefulness myself. However, the rich businessmen have no obligation to the people. Politicians absolutely do.Recommend

  • Humayun

    Rule by Hindus has really been no different in the past… the lower castes suffered while the upper castes prospered. After all the caste system was not just for show.

    It is something common to all societies whether the kings and serfs in Europe or the Elite and peasants in China.

    Using this opportunity to simply bash Muslim rule in India is quite illogical…Recommend

  • Sane

    Why being an Indian you need to make such commentsRecommend

  • Humayun

    What do you mean? He is actually disagreeing with wb on his remarks.Recommend

  • Humayun

    Rule by Hindus has really been no different in the past… the lower castes suffered while the upper castes prospered. After all the caste system was not just for show.

    It is something common to all societies whether the kings and serfs in Europe or the Elite and peasants in China.

    Using this opportunity to simply bash Muslim rule in India is quite illogical and

    only shows your contempt towards Islamic civilisation…Recommend

  • ss

    with just tax returns of rs 36100 how did sharmila farooqi manage to have such a lavish wedding ? These corrupt people have looted Pakistan and still consider themselves as messiah of common people . shameful indeed.Recommend

  • wb

    That’s not the same at all. Upper caste people or rich people or upper class people have absolutely no obligation towards the poor.

    But kings, rulers, ministers, politicians have all the obligation towards the people of a country/state.

    Can you make out the difference?

    And frankly, I was not bashing the Muslim rule in India. I was bashing the Muslim rulers in every part of the world. It’s the same story with Muslims.

    Whether it’s Gaddafi or Saddam or Saudi rulers or Pakistani rulers or African, Turkish rulers, an overwhelming majority of them have thrived by sucking the blood of poor Muslims.Recommend

  • MS

    This is possible in a lawless country like Pakistan. Wake up FBR.Recommend

  • Humayun

    “Upper caste people or rich people or upper class people have absolutely no obligation towards the poor.”

    The Upper caste/class people are the ones who make up the ruling elite so it IS in fact the same thing.

    Also I believe in progressive taxation and social security meaning that the rich do have an obligation towards the poor.

    ” I was bashing the Muslim rulers in every part of the world”

    That (in the modern world) is due to prevailing dictatorships and poor democracy rather than something to do with Muslims in general. After all the story is the same in many Eastern European or non-Muslim African countries.

    My point is that the Mughals (and Muslim rulers) were no more extravagant than other rulers of the time which is what you have claimed.Recommend

  • wb

    Your first assertion is not necessarily true. FYI, our own PM is from a lower caste.

    You can believe in thousand different things. That doesn’t make it LAW or that doesn’t make it RIGHT. FYI, I also believe in what you believe in. AGain, that doesn’t make it a law or that doesn’t make it right.

    It is not a question of modern world. This has been the case for 1400 years. Unfortunately, the story is not exactly the same of any (or even some) non-Muslim country. In fact, I can challenge you to find a more extravagant and morally decadent rulers than the rulers of Saud.

    Actually Mughals were extremely extravagant compared to other NON-MUSLIM rulers of the time.

    The best example is Taj Mahal. I can’t imagine how many thousands have died building that piece of garbage which has absolutely no architectural nuance.Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    Look at it this way . Bec of this extravaganza , ‘rich’ things like dry fruits / diamonds / silks …. Are bought and the industry behind it gets a boost . If extravaganza is banned who will buy these ‘rich’ things . Bec some rich lady bought a ( for eg ) diamond necklace , everyone in the diamond d industry till the last salesgirl in the jewellery shop got a boost. If everyone resorts to austerity , diamond shops will close / honest hardworking people in that sector will starve .Recommend

  • shrihari kulkarni

    yes muslim rule great with Gazani,Ghori,Abdali,Babur,Timur,Aurangzeb,Bhaktiyar,TipuRecommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    let the people of thar just rot and die, weddings are the thing to be spending our money onRecommend

  • Prashant

    He could not articulate it properly, he meant me being an Indian, I should always bash Pakistan which is what suits his narrative of Indians.Recommend

  • Chitralwala

    Looks like the Swami Mulla ‘wb’ is waxing poetic. Meandering, convoluted diatribes. Man hates Muslims, Islam and Pakistanis.Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    Must U scavenge for indo- Pak / Hindu- Muslim / rich- poor logic in everything ? Why can’t h wish this new couple a happy life with a whole heart ?Recommend

  • wb

    Was the blog about wishing well to the newly married couple? Perhaps you need to read the blog again.

    And if you don’t have the guts to digest the truth, you’re better off reading and writing about travel. I will continue to speak the harsh truth and facts about the bigotry of MUSLIMS and PAKISTANIS in particular.Recommend

  • Chitralwala

    One Muslim hating swami mullah bigot from hindustan.Recommend

  • guest
  • This is a case of conspicuous consumption, not Islamic history. Check your biases before speaking up and stop taking every chance to froth at the mouth about Muslims and what they did to you.Recommend

  • Mohammad

    The whole article revolves around mere perceptions, while the allegations leveled against Sharmila, her father and the political class in general are without any logical and dependable reference. Its an absolute depiction of scarce mentality, nothing else…Recommend

  • wb

    What brilliance. 80% of population of the world in every country deal with dry fruits/diamonds/silks/gold/emerald/ruby right?

    Only some useless 20% deal with groceries, plastic, steel, aluminum and the rest of the crap.

  • Supriya Arcot

    Ufff wibsy , theres no pleasing some !!Recommend

  • Usman Chaudhary
  • Shajee Fareedi

    wow this article is really beautiful and I liked the way captured photographs they increased my interest for reading more, keep on sharing such articles related to photographyRecommend