Saturday, September 27, 2008

Scoop – When Mr Zardari Met Ms Palin

Scoop – When Mr Zardari Met Ms Palin

All he wanted was a hug.

[Text by Mayank Austen Soofi; imaging by Roberto De Vido]

Pakistani men, the upper-class English-speaking types, have a “Savile Row-suited gigolo kind of charm.” No, it’s not the official view of Pakistan Paindabad. This was noted by someone close to US Secretary of State Ms Condoleeza Rice as she sat face-to-face with former PM Mr Shaukat Aziz on her virgin trip to Pakistan in 2005.

This was recorded in an otherwise yawn-yawn book titled Twice as Good: Condoleezza Rice and Her Path to Power. The book also noted that Ms Rice was left unimpressed by Mr Aziz’s gigolo-esqe seduction.

Now another suited-booted Pakistani man has tried his luck. President Asif Ali Zardari, the nation’s First Widower, pumped in his macho Feudal Lord rugged-look appeal (but with a trimmed mustache…in keeping with the Savile Row profile?) with another American lady of repute and disrepute.

This time it’s the Alaskan moose-killing Ms Sarah Palin, mummy of five children and also the Republican vice-President nominee.

During a state visit to New York in September, 2008, the First Widower met Momma Palin and yes readers, there indeed was something at first sight, if only from our man’s side.

First, they both shook hands. The moose-hunter who could become America’s dumbest president said she was “honoured” to meet Pakistan’s President. Our Widower, clearly delighted, in a return compliment, which only we Pakistani men could come up with, called her...ahem, “gorgeous”.

Mr Qadari...oh, sorry Zardari (blame Mr McCain) said, “Now I know why the whole of America is crazy about you.” (Ouch!)

“You are so nice,” Momma Palin shot back.

Just then the First Widower’s lackey told the two happy people to keep shaking hands – oh, no hidden motive. For the cameras, you see.

(More embarrassment coming)

The First Widower, all beaming, said, “If he’s insisting, I might hug.”

Momma Palin just smiled. Politely.

At the time of going to the press, Pakistan Paindabad could not confirm whether any hug actually took place.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

In Mourning - Once Was Marriott

In Mourning - Once Was Marriott

Terrorist attack kills more than 40 people in the Islamabad hotel.

[By Mayank Austen Soofi]

Explosion at Pakistan Marriott hotel kills 40
The Associated Press

Ideally located in the heart of capital, Islamabad Marriott Hotel with its distinguished patronage, plays host to Heads of states, dignitaries, corporate moguls and leisure guests from across the world. A symphony of contemporary decor, IMH reflects the diversity, the grandeur, the style, the hospitality - intensified in an intriguing way. And only here will one experience those sublime moments Islamabad is famous for.

Rooms and Suites
The living embodiment of glamour, Marriot Hotel Islamabad, combines elegance with style to enhance a variety of guest rooms and suites. Introduce yourself to the unique delights, up-to-the-minute amenities, and homely comfort within an ambience of exclusivity. Hospitality and swank décor in deluxe and executive guestrooms make your stay a relishing experience.

Contact Us
Islamabad Marriott Hotel
Agha Khan Road, Shalimar 5,
P.O.Box 1251 Islamabad.
Phone: +92 (51) 111-223344, 2826121
Fax: +92 (51) 2820648, 2825113

The hotel was hit before, too

A letter from Bill Marriott, Chairman & CEO of Marriott International

Islamabad, January 26, 2007

Today we witnessed the cruel hand of terrorism once again. According to Pakistani authorities, our hotel in Islamabad was the target of a lone suicide bomber. The explosion occurred by the loading dock in the afternoon local time.

No guests were hurt but a hotel maintenance worker was hospitalized and sadly, one of the hotel's security guards was killed as he tried to stop the suicide bomber from approaching the hotel. He is a great hero and he represents the true spirit to serve of our associates; to go above and beyond, which he certainly did.

Today, we're doing all we can to assist the hotel in Islamabad and reach out to the family of our security guard, who gave his life.

On September 20, 2008, the seven-storey building of five-star Marriott hotel was completely destroyed in a powerful suicide blast and more than 50 persons were killed and over 200 others were wounded.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Special - Mr Zardari, You've Got Mail

Mr Zardari, You've Got Mail

A Pakistani student writes to the nation's new Prez.

[By Hassan Masud]

Mr Zardari, You have fought, work now you must
For heaven's sake, save this country from utter rust;
High hopes that people have, build upon them
Come to us, instead of going to them.

Bring the new tradition of think and act
Please cut the crap and honour you pac

Mr President, you are now at the height that glows
Can we finally also have a system that smoothly flows?

You have burdens on your shoulders, burdens that are huge
Act responsibly and courageously because that's expected of you;

Economic depression, inflation and severe insecurity
Please resolve these issues by giving away your luxury.

Honorable Judiciary continues to bleed in your democracy
You make us wonder when will you ever do away with this tyranny?

Treacherous dictators usurped and slashed without any morality
Will you quitely give them pure, simple and easy indemnity?

What is more important, standing proud before your nation
Or bowing to "Mighty ones" and pleading for ration?

God has given you a tremendous oppurtunity, use it for Pakistan
Live it to the dreams of those who sacrificed to make this land.

You must listen to the best possible advice and assistance
Turn to us if you need help in matters of utmost importance

For we are the common people of this land
Whose future and destiny are in your hand

Our dear innocent brothers in the north are getting killed
For whose fault? Everybody is in the dark and uninformed.

We are fighting a war that we do not want to fight
You are as much aware of this as are we, am I right?

Corruption and bribery, murder and extortion
These are the very perils that pinch our population

We need the institutions to be strong and formidable
Only then will we feel secure and comfortable

And in all this is your victory, Mr President
And in all this is the revenge WE want for her death.

You have fought, work now you must
For heaven's sake, save this country from utter rust!

We wish you all the best and pray that the next 5 years, which will be termed as "Zardari Era" bring out the best of us as a nation. May we get mature as Pakistanis and may our democracy, for which we have truly paid a huge price to get, prosper!

The 'poet' is a final year student at Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute (GIKI), Topi.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Xclusive – How President Zardari Courted Benazir Bhutto


Revealing excerpts from Benazir’s memoirs.

[By Mayank Austen Soofi]

As Mr Asif Zardari, the widower of Ms Benazir Bhutto, becomes the new President of Pakistan, Pakistan Paindabad looks back into his wife’s autobiography, Daughter of Destiny, to find out just how he became Pakistan’s First Husband.

So, here is the story of how Pakistan's most famous woman got attracted to a rich man's son who would, due to his connections to her, would one day lay claim to his nation's top post. In Ms Benazir Bhutto's own words:

Family pressure
My personal life had taken a dramatic turn on July 29, 1987, when I agreed to an arranged marriage on the prompting of my family.

First whispers started earlier
Soon before the family was to gather in Cannes in July 1985, my mother and Auntie Manna approached me with a proposal from the landowning Zardari family on behalf of their son, Asif.

Old crush?
When we were teenagers, he’d watched me enter and leave the movie theater his father owned.

A suitable boy?
Auntie Manna had carefully researched the prospective groom…asking the Zardaris to answer such questions as Asif’s academic qualifications (Petaro Cadet College, the London Centre of Economic and Political Studies), his profession (real estate, agriculture, and the family construction business), his hobbies (swimming, squash, and his own polo team, the Zardari Four), and even whether he liked to read!

The reluctant girl
…but I wasn’t interested. For the first time in nine years, I was enjoying my own country, free to go out and see my friends, to travel, to work. “Just let me enjoy my freedom for a while,” I kept saying.

A woman’s burden
Remaining single would work against me politically both inside and outside Pakistan. In the male chauvinistic society we live in, little thought is given to a man who remains a bachelor. But a single woman is suspect.

Zardari pressure
Asif Zardarai. Asif Zardari. Asif Zardari. Two years after his family’s initial enquiry, neither he nor his family had given up.

Someone told me that Asif had taken a bad fall from his polo pony and would limp for the rest of his life. That turned out not to be true…

First meeting
He was wearing glasses, and I couldn’t even see the expressions in his eyes. I didn’t have a single feeling about him at all after the evening ended, even when he sent me a dozen roses the next day.

On the fourth day of the Zardari visit, I took Fathi to Windsor Park while Asif went to a polo match. A bee stung me in my hand. By dinnertime my hand was very swollen. “I’m taking you to the hospital,” Asif told me when he arrived at the flat. He ignored my protests, calling for a car, arranging for the doctor, buying the prescribed medicine. For once I am not in charge, I thought.

It’s settled
“Conscious of my religious obligations and duty to my family, I am pleased to proceed with the marriage proposal accepted by my mother, Begum Nusrat Bhutto,” read the statement I released to the press.

No love, yet
We didn’t really love each other yet, though my mother assured me that love would come later.

The D-Day, December 18 1987
I tried to look demurely down at the ground as I took my place on the wedding dais.

Tasting the blood
Two hundred thousand people danced and cheered at the People’s Reception in Lyari, giving Asif his first taste of the love and support of the masses for the Pakistan’s People Party.