Chelsea Clinton, 36, witnessed her mother ‘break the glass ceiling’ via a life-size video clip showing Hillary’s face emerging through the shattered glass to become the first woman nominee for president of a major political party. Tears rolled down women’s faces present inside the Democratic National Convention hall in Philadelphia. Chelsea herself, could make history come November as a two-time ‘First Daughter’ with Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.

Dressed in a red sheath dress, Chelsea appeared on the stage to ‘humanise’ her mother before a packed crowd. Hillary, according to most, is not relatable. She’s more robotic than folksy. So the daughter shines light on the ‘softer side’ of a woman who has hogged the public arena for four decades — first as the wife of a governor and president, followed by her own ascent into politics as a senator from New York, a presidential candidate in 2008, and finally secretary of state.

Chelsea came to our town this June perhaps with the same intent to say what a wonderfully warm person Hillary is and that we should vote for her. The event was held in a ballroom of a local hotel in New Jersey. On the stage stood two smallish stools with a bland backdrop except for a US flag for a prop. “She’s nine months pregnant! How will she sit on one of these dinky stools?” said a woman seated on my left. While the air-conditioning bravely soldiered on unable to bring the temperature down as the room filled up with Hillary supporters, most well past their prime, we waited for Chelsea’s arrival. “It’s suffocating in here, they should turn on the cool air, a very pregnant Chelsea will feel the heat,” said another woman on my right.


Chelsea Clinton remembers visiting Pakistan with her mother as a 15-year-old. At a reception in Islamabad, wearing a black shalwar kameez that Hillary carried beautifully, she stood shaking hands with all the 1,000 guests — 21 years later, Hillary still displays the same energy and vivacity as she did that night in 1995


Soon, music filled the hall with the ‘Fight Song’, by Rachel Platten, whose opening lines are: “This is my fight song / Take back my life song / Prove I’m alright song / My power’s turned on…” This signature number is played whenever Hillary steps on the stage at her countrywide rallies. Anticipation built up with all eyes on the stage to see Chelsea enter.

Wearing blue jeans and a simple white floral top that didn’t hug her protruding tummy, Chelsea appeared in black boots that made her look shorter than her 5.9” frame. She waved, beaming a warm smile, and neatly perched herself on a stool. Cory Booker, the Democrat senator from New Jersey hopped on to the stool next to her to introduce her. As the first black senator in the US Congress, he commands great respect and admiration in our state. “This is the time. This is the inflection point for us to reject bigotry, reject hatred, reject anti-religious sentiments,” began the senator.

Chelsea spoke with fluency and ease, holding the mike and walking around the stage to address the audience. “I have a two-year-old daughter Charlotte who will soon have a brother,” she began while touching her tummy. “Don’t worry, I am not about to give birth just now,” she joked. “It will happen soon though.” Sure enough, two weeks after we met Chelsea, the birth of her son Aidan was announced. As the hour-long event wound down, I dashed towards the stage to grab a short conversation with her and to tell her that she visited our country as a 15-year-old with her mother.

In the spring of 1995, First Lady Hillary Clinton along with her only child, Chelsea, sat at the high table listening to their host Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto welcome her guests from America. The majestic dining room at the PM House in Islamabad was the venue for the luncheon. The national press was in attendance. It was a splendid affair with warmth, glamour and good cheer. Speeches being over, gifts were exchanged. Mrs Clinton presented her host with a beautiful crystal vase and a pair of silver candlesticks. In return Benazir Bhutto gave the First Lady a set of carved Victorian-style chairs with silver armrests.

We heard Mrs Clinton extend a warm invitation to our prime minister with a promise that she’d carry good wishes from the people of Pakistan to her husband, the president. Sure enough, a month after the visit of the First Lady, Benazir made a state visit to the White House and returned with renewed support from the White House for her government.

“Yes, I remember visiting Pakistan with my mother as a young girl,” Chelsea said spontaneously, warming up instantly and stopping for more questions. Continuing with my nostalgia peppered sprinkles, I reminded her of the second night of their stay in Islamabad that was even more memorable. At a reception by American Ambassador and Mrs Thomas Simons, Hillary and Chelsea mingled among a crowd of thousands of Pakistanis from different walks of life — there were politicians, ministers, professionals, women activists and, of course, the members of the media.

“Your mother wore a black shalwar kameez created by one of our top designers Rizwan Beyg. She carried it beautifully. When it was time to say goodbye, there was Mrs Clinton shaking hands with each and every guest with a smile and a brief comment. Twenty-one years later, she still displays the same energy and vivacity as she did that night,” I said. Before Chelsea could comment, the crowd around us burst into claps.

“My mother’s energy is phenomenal. People ask me all the time, ‘how does she do it? How does she keep going? Doesn’t she ever get tired?’ And I tell them that this is who she is. As the senator from New York when 9/11 happened, she was at Ground Zero comforting the survivors, holding and hugging everyone who had lost a loved one.” More claps and cheers. “My mother made sure that the first responders got the healthcare they deserved … they were the brave men and women who reached the site inhaling the toxic material that was still falling from the debris of the collapsed towers.”

Chelsea says her mother would make a great president and will give every American, irrespective of his/her background, equal respect that each deserves. “I’m here today as a proud American, a proud Democrat, a proud daughter and a proud mother,” she said. I reminded Chelsea of an informal chat her mother had with college students when she visited a girls’ college in Islamabad during her 1995 visit. While responding to a student’s remarks that it was hard to find the ideal man to marry, Mrs Clinton had answered in her pragmatic way: “You have to be a lot more realistic. It’s not a partnership that’s 50-50. It’s a partnership that’s 100 per cent and 100 per cent, because that’s what you have to give to it.”

Chelsea said her mother championed equal rights for women during her 40 years of public life. Now is the time to stand up and reject Donald Trump’s fascism. “He has regularly engaged in hate speech, bigotry, sexism, racism and Islamophobia. None of that is a country I want to live in,” Chelsea said.

Senator Booker who was standing patiently all this while had the last word: “That’s the reason why you should knock at every door in your vicinity to tell your story [and] what a great leader Hillary Clinton will make. The bigoted bully and a misogynist Donald Trump must never be allowed within a 1,000 yards of the White House come November.”

Donald Trump’s latest nasty remarks about the Pakistani-born Ghazala Khan, a bereaved mother of the slain hero Captain Humayun Khan, have gone viral. The cowering thin-skinned bully attacked Ghazala who had stood silently by her husband when Khizr Khan addressed the Democratic National Convention. She was overcome with grief. But the shameless Trump ridiculed her silence: “I’d like to hear his wife say something,” he said later, suggesting that as a Muslim woman, Ghazala may have been forced into a position of subservience: “His wife … if you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”

Let the 3.3 million Muslims in America “tell” the ignoramus Donald Trump to go take a hike!

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, August 7th, 2016

Opinion

Editorial

Olympics contingent
21 Jul, 2024

Olympics contingent

FROM 10 in Tokyo the last time, it is now down to seven in Paris, and split across just three disciplines. When...
Grave concerns
21 Jul, 2024

Grave concerns

PUNJAB Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz’s open assault on the Supreme Court for ruling in favour of the PTI in the...
Civil unrest
Updated 21 Jul, 2024

Civil unrest

The government must start putting out fires instead of fanning more flames.
Royal tantrum
Updated 20 Jul, 2024

Royal tantrum

The PML-N's confrontational stance and overt refusal to respect courts orders on arguably flimsy pretexts is a dangerous sign.
Bangladesh chaos
Updated 20 Jul, 2024

Bangladesh chaos

The unfortunate events playing out in Bangladesh should serve as a warning sign for other South Asian states.
Fitch’s estimate
20 Jul, 2024

Fitch’s estimate

FITCH seems to be more optimistic about Pakistan accelerating its economic growth rate to 3.2pc during this fiscal...