by Farooq Hassan
If you have made a lot of money, say $50 million, the first step is to buy respectability.
It’s not important how you made the money, whether through drugs, gunrunning, kickbacks or bhatta. What is important is that after becoming rich, you and your family should acquire respectability.
Acquiring respectability is a refined art. There are some consultants who advise their clients on how to go about this. The consultants charge hefty fees.
I list the following 14 steps that a rich man in Pakistan should undertake. I guarantee that thereafter his brand will be the essence of respectability.
Hire a good publicist: The first step is to hire a good publicist. This publicist will play a significant role in your journey towards respectability.
College degree: No self-respecting man is without a college degree. It you don’t have one, no problem. Local colleges sell degrees that can be verified for between Rs200,000 and Rs300,000. If you wish for a foreign degree, it can be arranged. One can acquire a doctorate from Switzerland for 10,000 euros.
Wife: Every successful man has to have a glamorous wife. If you have been married to a village girl for the last 20 years, dump her. She’s not good for respectability. You need a trophy wife. Many fashion models of Pakistan are willing to marry rich men if an income of Rs500,000 per month is guaranteed (adjusted for inflation). Make sure she’s not taller than you. Sign a prenuptial agreement for safety.
Charitable donations: You should make substantial charitable donations. Your publicist will advise you to donate to SOS Children’s Villages, Special Olympics, Marie Adelaide, etc. The photographs should be published generously. Start your own foundation like Bill and Melinda Gates. Every respectable family should have a family foundation.
LUMS Board of Governors: If you donate a substantial amount to LUMS, you can be on its Board. LUMS is not interested in where the money came from.
Honours list: Your publicist can influence the Cabinet Division in Islamabad to honour you with a Sitara-e-Imtiaz or a Hilal. If you know President Zardari, it will be a piece of cake. You can print this on your calling card for the rest of your life. If you do the right lobbying in London, Paris and Washington DC, you can walk away with an Order of the British Empire, Legion of Honour or the Medal of Freedom.
Board of Directors: Your publicist should lobby with the relevant ministry for you to become a director of a state-run organisation – OGDC, PIA, PPL, UBL, HBL, etc. It does not require much effort. After all, with your doctorate from Switzerland, you are a real professional.
Publications/books: Your publicist should ensure that at least one article per month is published under your name in an influential newspaper. You need not write the article, only pay for it. If you have serious political ambitions, you must have a book written by a ghost. Remember Pervez Musharraf’s In the line of fire. A former chairman of NDFC, who could not speak English, wrote a book entitled The Capital Markets Of Pakistan.
Think tanks: The think tanks in the US should invite you occasionally. Your publicist should stay in touch with the RAND Corporation, the Brookings Institution, etc. If you want to become the foreign minister of Pakistan, try the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission.
Club membership: If you want to be taken seriously, you should belong to some exclusive club. I don’t know if the ‘money for membership’ scheme is still operative. You will certainty find somebody to sponsor you.
Apparel: Clothes make the man. If you want to be successful, dress the part. Avoid Moosajees and Haji Karim Baksh. Shop in London. Suits from Anderson and Sheppard, shoes from John Lobb and shirts from Turnbull and Asser.
Property: A good address is very important.. In London, you must own property in Park Lane, to be close to the Sharif brothers. You must own a townhouse in the Hamptons, Long Island.
Bankers: To gain respectability, you must bank with the right institutions. In London, Coutts Co are the Queen’s bankers. They welcome Pakistanis. Your bank rating must be triple A.
Family tree: Leave your past behind, like your wife. Erase it. Take a new title. Create a new family tree. Trace your lineage to historical families, such as the Nizam of Hyderabad or the Maharaja of Baroda. Many respectable families of Pakistan have travelled this route.
The writer is the former executive director of MAP.