This is how House of Cards would look if it were based on Pakistani politicians

Published: June 15, 2015
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The main reason why I wanted to map HoC characters on Pakistani political celebrities is because of the grim and gores both American and Pakistani playfields of politics share.

Ever since House of Cards (HoC) season three was released, I have been trying to create a list on how HoC would turn out if it were based on Pakistani politicians and, finally, my efforts have come to fruition. And to my surprise, the list has turned out to be more interesting than what I had expected.

The main reason why I wanted to map HoC characters on Pakistani political celebrities is because of the grim and gores both American and Pakistani playfields of politics share. Also, I was inspired to make this because of the trials and tribulations innocent people face due to the filthy tactics and political manoeuvre done by the powers that be.

However, the list below is just my personal opinion (and predictions) and it might not reflect the true state of affairs.

1) Peter Russo versus Dr Imran Farooq

This seems pretty obvious.

Both share a dreadful storyline of a man who was used and then dumped on the way. While we can accuse Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to be the Frank Underwood in this scenario, the fact remains that people are used as pawns by political maestros who do not flinch even for a second before ruthlessly disposing them off.

And this was why I felt that Mr Farooq and Peter Rosso share the same role.

2) Jackie Sharp versus Marvi Memon

For both these characters, loyalty remains subjective to their own interests.

While we see Jackie Sharp supporting Frank Underwood in becoming the next president of the United States (in season two), we also see her dark side when she throws Frank under the bus by supporting the opposition and later on leaving her presidential campaign to support Heather Dunbar – Frank’s rival.

Similarly, in case of Marvi Memon, we have seen over the years how her stance has changed from her days at the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) to her short adventure with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and then her latest shift to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). While some may argue that PML-Q and PML-N are two different poles altogether in their treads of politics, Memon has the capacity to negotiate her way through any agenda – just like Sharp.

3) Zoe Barnes versus Hamid Mir

Perhaps the only difference between the two of them is that Zoe Barnes wasn’t as lucky as Hamid Mir when she was attacked. Journalists fall prey to political motives, and the case with Barnes and Mir highlight that, irrespective of whether you are in Pakistan or the United States.

4) Raymond Tusk versus Malik Riaz

“Politics and business are intervened” – Raymond Tusk (season two).

While not all business tycoons enjoy being a part of politics, they eventually have to become a part of this dirty game. Like Tusk, who had the president in his pockets in season two, Malik Riaz too understands the importance of having important political friends. His recent announcement of making the Altaf Hussain University in Hyderabad is an example of this.

While people are calling him altruistic, others see this as a passage that guarantees the safe connections of Bahria Town with Karachi.

5) Doug Stamper versus Miftah Ismail

Doug Stamper, personal secretary to President Underwood, is the man who keeps all the pipelines in check and keeps them clean as well. Without Stamper, Underwood would not have gotten as far as he did, which makes him an asset.

Quite similarly, ever since Miftah Ismail has become the special adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, we see him taking over a similar role. And while their approaches might be different, both can be seen defending their bosses at various platforms. 

6) Rachel Posner versus Ayaan Ali

The both share the story of being girls who were present at the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong set of luggage. Both of them got stranded in the deep sea of politics whilst having little stake in it. And now things aren’t pretty at their end as those who used them are no longer there to support them.

7) Claire Underwood versus Sherry Rehman

It is almost impossible for you to talk about House of Cards and miss out the ever-graceful Claire Underwood. It is quite an arduous job to find a female politician of such stature in patriarchal Pakistan. However, Sherry Rehman seems like a perfect fit, given her recent unopposed appointment as a senator.

The grace with which Claire Underwood vocalises her thoughts is quite similar to Rehman’s style, as she too has been very vocal about the social issues in Pakistan. Also, since both of them have been ambassadors in different capacities, this makes their link even stronger.

8) Frank Underwood versus the status quo

If you know who the Frank Underwood of Pakistan is, just think about all the people and institutions whom you can’t criticise.

From the corrupt politicians to compromised higher-ups, you can find Frank Underwood everywhere in your ranks. In Pakistan, some voices will be gagged when higher ranks or better jobs are thrust their way in exchange for their loyalty, whilst others will be silenced when they are deprived of jobs they deserve. Some voices are bought and if not that, they are simply killed. And all these are signature tactics of Frank Underwood.

Combining House of Cards with Pakistani politics has made me realise exactly how much we need to work on our systems and our governance.

While I believe societies cannot change their course over night, I do pray for a more tolerant Pakistan for all of us. I urge you all to identify whom you can not criticise within the corridors of power. It is only then that we can come up with a solution.

Danish.Zaidi

Danish Zaidi

The author is the CEO at Cheekh - Speak up. He is an engineer and tech enthusiast with a keen interest in Political dynamics and Public Policy.He tweets as @syedmdz

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

  • Headstrong

    Oh boy! Talk about stretching one’s imagination! I suppose Sartaj Aziz is the real life equivalent of Catherine Durant? He would be so flattered. Who is Remy’s equivalent? Recommend

  • abdulah malik

    Zoe Barnes versus Hamid Mir

    wow have some sympathy for the lady, man what are you doing.Recommend

  • Imran

    Instead of churninng out endless crap of Saas Bahoo dramas, some bright minds in our industry should take up political themes.Recommend

  • Asad Shairani

    Interesting comparisons. Stamper though, did a lot of dirty work, if Rana Sanaullah had a bit of brains he would have been closer to him.Recommend

  • Rishabh Jain

    Without the shadow of a doubt, frank Underwood’s part belongs to the army. I am saying that but to be derogatory, but the way the political drama is played out in Pakistan is something of a cracker!Recommend

  • Zubair

    How about Zardari for FURecommend

  • nida zahra

    in both cases ” Curiosity killed the cat” so justified.Recommend

  • nida zahra

    Very Interesting read indeed. I must say author has some serious political knowledge regarding Pakistan & america. Thumbs up!Recommend

  • Muhammad Danish

    Zardari might share some dirty tactics with FU but on the larger note, he alleviated national party PPP and restricted it to a province.Recommend

  • Muhammad Danish

    Rana sanaullah can be a match for his links with violent religious seminaries but seems like he has lesser brains to be a PA to the PM.Recommend

  • Affan Elahi

    Brilliant :O comparisons are way closer to reality. Totally LOLed out at raechal and ayyan though. (Y)Recommend

  • Affan Elahi

    Indeed. Very well thought out comparison!Recommend

  • Abdul Wahab

    zardari is fit for being frank underwoodRecommend

  • thriftysmurf

    The one I disagree with is Sherry Rehman being Claire Underwood. There isn’t a better example of Claire Underwood than Benazir Bhutto. Attractive, ruthlessly power hungry, and manipulative.Recommend

  • Muhammad Danish

    let’s talk about those who are alive.Recommend

  • zainab khan

    wow, it’s quite thought provoking. malik riaz bridge reference, zoe barnes and even rachael. All are well put. last reference should be khaki. I think he was trying to refer to sabeen mahmud case.Recommend

  • zainab khan

    Also the miftah ismail reference is quite apt.Recommend

  • Mariyam mehdi

    LOL at raechal and ayyan match. and it matched in real. Never thought an article can turn up like this. Good Piece (Y)Recommend

  • Mariyam mehdi

    It worked fine. conclusion is great though.Recommend

  • shahla ingrid

    I thought hina rabbani khar can be the Clair underwood but may be she doesn’t have that grace as makeup cannot put grace :PRecommend

  • shahla ingrid

    I love the new army chief though.Recommend

  • shahla ingrid

    and for malik riaz , he becomes altruistic just to avoid the tax.Recommend

  • shahla ingrid

    Benazir can be option but I think clair underwood is more stronger woman.Recommend

  • khayamgondal

    Rehman Malik as Remy DantonRecommend

  • A Pakistani

    I would say, get a life. This whole comparison with Pakistani politics seems stupid.Recommend

  • Sami Qahar

    Agreed on Raymond risk and to an extent rachel posnor. Jackie sharp was much smarter than marvi memon. Maulana fazlu is jackie sharp. Zoey barnes and hamid mir very close too.
    There has to be a role for justice iftikhar ch. Haider abbas rizvi for remy danton.Recommend

  • Nimrah

    Claire Underwood & Sherry Rehman? NO!!Recommend