Friday, November 21, 2008

Salman Taseer Photos Controversy


Personally I don't find any of these photos objectionable. In fact, publishing the daughter's school sports activities and innocent clowning around is definitely below the belt even though she's in shorts and swimsuits and skirts. After all she studies in Lahore American School and brought up in a very westernized household. The dancing appears to be from a mehndi occasion - totally cultural.

The son's case does appear to be a bit different. He apparently is a playboy just as his father was and still is. Again, nothing wrong with that except using the Punjab Governor house for gathering bevies of star-eyed bunnies just as Kennedy used the White House? Don't think many people will take kindly to that.

However, how unfair these personal attacks may be, they do highlight the fact that entry into public office does mean loss of personal privacy. Salman Taseer would have been well-advised to keep his and his son's philandering and his open bottles of Black Label Scotch to his gigantic farmhouse outside Lahore, and not to bring these along to the Governor House chambers and lawns. That place holds a great deal of historical symbolism for the identity of the Punjab province.

Then, at a time when the country is mired in all sorts of crises, open displays of private merry-making by the rulers just reinforces the feeling that the governing elite doesn't care what goes on outside their well-guarded walls, as long as they continue to maintain their share in absolute terms from the ever shrinking pie, while the share of others' shrinks even further along with the size of the pie.

Last but not least, this is an Islamic country where attempts at 'enlightened moderation' have always backfired violently. These fires are better left unstoked.