I was desperately looking for today’s ‘The Side Mirror’ topic when a friend called me.
“Who is Farah Khan?”
“The one who is the friend of the first lady,” my friend explained.
The lady who is (Interim) Prime Minister Imran Khan’s third wife Bushra Bibi’s best friend has many names: Farah Khan, Farah Ahsan Gujjar and Farhat Shahzadi.
Since the media is addressing her as Farah Khan, let’s agree to this name.
I ask my friend what makes Farah Khan the issue of the day.
I know that her name has been coming under discussion in journalistic circles for the past two years.
Detractors say Farah Khan has been a de facto Punjab chief minister during the rule of (now interim) Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar. It is said her words could bless a bureaucrat with a posting of their choice. Her orders would strip many of their posting. Officers got her approval for posting, transfer, and promotion.
My friend gets impatient now.
“Haven’t you seen her picture doing the rounds on the media and social media? She flies in a private jet and wears high brand dresses, shoes, wristwatch and glasses,” he says angrily.
“So, what is a big deal in it? Every middle-class woman, what to say of upper-middle and upper-class people, can afford brand accessories.”
Finding me not so defensive, my friend changed the conversation.
Let us come to the topic: Who is Farah Khan?
Well, once you reach a point of power, it brings so many friends, foes and cronies. Not many can resist the power and influence of friends, foes and cronies around you.
Take the example of PM Imran Khan.
When he ascended to the Prime Minister’s House, he had his kitchen cabinet ready: Zulfi Bukhari, Naeemul Haque, Asad Umar, and so on. His wife, Bushra Bibi, had Farah Khan in her company.
Imran Khan’s predecessor Nawaz Sharif had his own version of a kitchen cabinet. He, however, was under the influence of his daughter Maryam Nawaz, who was influenced by Pervez Rasheed, and other comrades.
Before Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister House’s occupant was Yousaf Raza Gilani. I don’t need to name the frontrunner of Gilani.
All the occupants of the Prime Minister’s House have faced corruption allegations. Perhaps, it has become a ritual of the house that it sends off its occupants tainted, scandalized.
But Farah Khan is a different case.
She has neither been a permanent resident of Prime Minister House nor Chief Minister’s House, but she is being dubbed as the most corrupt person of Punjab, if not Pakistan.
Recently, her departure to Dubai grabbed all media houses’ attention.
It is said Farah Khan’s husband has ‘fled’ to the US, while Farah Khan will make Dubai her permanent residence.
It is unfortunate that leaders like Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Maryam Nawaz have mentioned Farah Khan in their pressers, calling her the front lady of the first lady.
If they have any plausible corruption proof against Farah Khan, they have committed criminal negligence by not invoking the laws of the land against her.
The media is running amuck about the Federal Investigation Agency not stopping her at the airport. Although, there are no restraining orders on her.
After the departure of Usman Buzdar, it emerges now that Farah Khan will be the new punching bag for the media and opposition. Media personnel have visited her native hometown. Every person related to her is coming under great scrutiny.
Just like Usman Buzdar, Farah Khan and her husband have chosen not to respond to media campaigns against them.
This strategy does not work; instead, it fuels rumours, and strengthens the negative perception among the public.
Farah Khan should speak up now.
Valid questions remain unanswered.
Why she left the country right after the fall of the Imran Khan government?
How has she accumulated so many assets?
Has she really been assertive in transfers, postings and promotions of officers?
Are the pictures of her traveling in (private) jet real?
Sometimes, silence is not gold.