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Dubious marriages — a `feather` in PML-N cap

December 15, 2011

Ayesha Ahad Malik addressing a press conference against Hamza Shahbaz Sharif. —Online

ISLAMABAD: Away from the Byzantine palace intrigues of Islamabad with memogate, coup and judicial threats and what not, the PML-N in Punjab is dealing with its own set of problems that appear to be unique to this branch of Leaguers.

The problem first crept up when the party was last in power when then chief minister Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, married a second time.

Folklore in Lahore had it that the cavalry bridge (among a number of road expansion and underpass-overhead building frenzy that the CM was famous for in that term) was built so that he could get to his second wife's home quickly and without hitting too many traffic jams. The bridge is still known as Honey Bridge to the residents of Lahore.

That was ten years ago. In the middle, his government was sacked and the CM went abroad in exile where he acquired not just hair but also a third wife.

Now he is back and in power again but it is his son whose marriages are in the headlines.

Young Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, who was till the sudden arrival of Mariam Nawaz Sharif, the face of the future of the PML-N, is said to have two marriages on his belt.

Then a third wife appeared out of nowhere. She claimed to be his wife and maintained that she and her family were being harassed by the party.

Turned into a media show by the news channels ever hungry for a story, the travails of this once loved and then harassed woman were reported for quite a few days before being drowned out by the other news that keeps us going – civil military relations; corruption and militancy.

The MQM, which has been at the butt of PML-N criticism quite a few times, also highlighted the issue in the National Assembly to score some political points. The party announced that it would help Ms Malik get justice. Whether they followed up on their words or not is another matter.

But before the party could breathe a sigh of relief, its former chief minister's married life came under the limelight.

Television watchers, in the recent past, have been treated to the spectacle of the PML-N MPA Sardar Dost Muhammad Khan Khosa dancing in a home video. He remained the CM of the Punjab briefly after the 2008 election.

The footage was released by the family of a woman who is said to have married him.

Khosa admits to the marriage and divorce but refuses to accept any responsibility for the disappearance of the woman, which her family accuses him of.

Worrying and serious though the incident is, it is the trend that is intriguing. Why do we hear such stories mostly about PML-N members?

One is tempted to add, even at the risk of sounding politically incorrect, that its members are a bit straight-laced and tend to fall for independent-minded and strong women whom they then marry. But once and if things turn sour, these women are not averse to creating a ruckus. And this is where the Leaguers get into trouble.

The older parties never seem to face such scandals even if their heads tell American ambassadors of the Autumn-Spring marriages of their key leaders.

Or if an elderly Taj Haider ends up celebrating his Winter-Spring marriage with photos in the newspapers. The marriages – one or more – of other political leaders hardly ever make it to the newspapers or to the channels.

Even the MQM manages to keep a tight lid on its marriages and break ups.

But the PML-N, despite its claims of principled politics, and its obsession with ethics, always ends up caught up in the worst of scandals. If it is not marriage then it is cheating or worse still stealing.

In particular it does not manage to handle its affairs of the heart too discreetly. And they also then have to pay heavily for it.

Reports suggest that the sudden disappearance of Hamza Sharif from the political scene and the appearance of Nawaz Sharif's daughter on the political scene are linked to the marriage fiasco of the former.