The Jolie effect | Pakistan Today

The Jolie effect

Getting wobbly in the knees when meeting a beautiful woman may be some sort of a national vulnerability but acting funny before a global celebrity in the highest echelons of power, where the fare is ever so likely to find its way to a fifth column, betrays poor judgment, if anything.

Almost every time Tomb Raider flies into Pakistan, she makes pygmies out of Tarzans from the countrys political jungleserr offices, who bend over backwards to please her for their gloss quotient.

However, instead of any remorse at this genuflection, one gets the impression it gives them a kick and only invites envy amongst those missing out on the glitz.

At this rate, Brad Pitt should consider providing an A-list protection, which he manfully did when the generalissimo was still around and the star couple went to the Army House for a courtesy call.

The next days papers showed us that Pitt had, in fact, placed his shoe tip on the edge of a table facing Musharraf, who had himself changed into star gear blue shirt, blue jeans, blue pullover!

Not to be left behind was Musharrafs handpicked prime minister, the suave banker Shaukat Aziz. He made that now-legendary stroll in the sprawling Prime Minister House count by holding Jolies hands as pleasantries were exchanged going strictly by official lingo. They provided the kind of glam shots, which set the bar for future chief executives.

But this is not to suggest the uber-cool Aziz always held his own. Indeed, a biographical account of former U.S. secretary of state Dr Condoleezza Rice provided a dish that a few irate (or jealous?) members of the upper house of Pakistans bicameral legislature found unpalatable enough to move a motion about.

The episode narrated by Twice As Good author Marcus Mabry from a March 2005 rendezvous bears repetition.

When Rice sat down with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who fancied himself as a ladies man, Aziz puffed himself up and held forth in what he obviously thought was his seductive baritone.

He bragged to Western diplomats, no less that he could conquer any woman in two minutes, Mabry claimed.

(Mr Aziz) tried this Savile Row-suited gigolo kind of charm: Pakistan is a country of rich traditions, staring in (Rices) eyes, Mabry wrote, quoting a participant at the meeting.

There was this test of wills where he was trying to use all his charms on her as a woman, and she just basically stared him down, the author wrote.

By the end of the meeting, he was babbling. It was palpable for the Americans. The Pakistanis were shifting uncomfortably. And his voice visibly changed.

Back to Jolie. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani must have felt like a million dollars at Jolies suggestion of a Hollywood career thanks to his good looks as reported by U.S. Special Envoy on Pakistan Richard Holbrooke.

Sadly, the blushing premier is said to have responded with a whimper of a tired clich: I would prefer to serve the people of Pakistan over Hollywood.

However, the prime minister appeared to have forgotten the very same people when he opened the VVIP gates of indulgence for Jolie and flew his family from Multan on a chartered flight to have albums framed for posterity.

Not done with the photo-ops, Jolie was then lavished with expensive gifts and invited to feast to her great discomfort on tables loaded with an enchilada of dishes that would have taken a couple of days to fully scan.

This appears to have turned the UN Goodwill Ambassador off to the extent she took an unprecedented step of pushing her parent world body to ask Pakistani leadership to mind their spendthrift ways at a time when one-fifth of the country is submerged in flood waters and millions uprooted from their homes.

A few years ago, the governor of the erstwhile Frontier province, in a comical display of star struck frenzy persisted with Jolie to cut his birthday cake when she went to meet him on an official visit.

Hoping to ward off the embarrassment by shaming him, the Hollywood superstar questioned why he wasnt asking his spouse to do the honours, to which he is reported to have wryly said, was a routine thing!

Only the late Princess of Wales appeared to invite greater kitsch amongst Pakistani elite. When Lady Diana first came here, nineteen seasons ago, they clung to photo-ops with her like nobodys business. Indeed, the joke was that anyone lucky to have shaken hands with her didnt want to wash them afterwards.

Even Abdul Qadir, the Badshahi Mosque imam, who copped flak for showing the short-skirted princess around, dismissed the criticism of fellow clerics as a case of the green monster.

The writer is a former newspaper editor and columnist.