Will Pakistan's Gen Next make a difference?

Updated on Feb 10, 2008 04:19 PM IST
Their degrees from prestigious foreign universities hold them in good stead but can the Generation Next of Pakistani politics become harbingers of change?
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PTI | By, Islamabad

Their degrees from prestigious foreign universities hold them in good stead and their famous last names have eased their entry into politics. But can the Generation Next of Pakistani politics become harbingers of change?

Though the electoral plunge of Moonis Elahi, son of Punjab province's former chief minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, and Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, the nephew of former premier Nawaz Sharif and son of former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, has been the most talked about, there are several other star-children whose fate will be sealed in the February 18 general election.

There is little in common between Hamza, 33, and Moonis, 31, the two high-profile sons of the Punjab's top politicians.

Hamza saw the "ups and downs of life" when his uncle was ousted in a bloodless coup by President Pervez Musharraf in 1999 and ended up becoming his resident spokesperson till Nawaz's return in November last year, while Moonis has been witness only to the "highs".

Hamza, contesting polls to the National Assembly for the first time as the PML-N's candidate from Old Lahore, holds a law degree from the prestigious London School of Economics.

He wants to focus on development in his constituency but he is not quite sure how.

"We need a strategy to bring about development," Hamza, who was jailed when he was 19, told a TV channel recently. Asked to elaborate on his strategy, he drew a blank.

Moonis, a graduate from Wharton School of Business in the US, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Moonis, who is contesting from Lahore, allegedly beat up a man who raced past him and even called in the police and got him detained. (MORE)

He is also well known for making extraordinary profits in Lahore's real estate business.

"Moonis is a firm believer that progressive politics and grassroots developmental work are critical in changing the lives of people for the better. Therefore Moonis aims to develop innovative approaches to challenge the status quo and get results for Pakistan," reads the "Prince of Punjab 's" biodata on his official website mooniselahi.Org.

Nadya Gabol, 28, a law graduate from Manchester, who has spent very little time in Pakistan, is contesting on an MQM ticket from Lyari in Karachi. The niece of Pakistan People's Party leader Nabil Gabol says her "ability to understand the public" qualifies her for public office.

Her aim is to "enable the people of Lyari to look towards a better future and forget their bad days". Nadya, who could have a readymade career in modelling, thinks her experience as "a social worker in the UK" and her duty to help Asian and Pakistani women get married will help her run for public office.

Rafay Akbar Rashdi, 26, a graduate from Ryerson University in Toronto, is contesting on a PML-F ticket from Larkana in Sindh province. His father Mahtab Akbar Rashdi is a former bureaucrat.

Rashdi, who is in London, says the opportunity to study abroad and observe developments in these countries qualifies him for public office. He is currently in London appearing for his masters exams and is due to return to Pakistan shortly to campaign.

"I was sent abroad to acquire further education and learn so that I would come back and do something for my people. It's not like I have been living abroad in luxury," he said, making a case for his candidature.

"Our country needs development and support and it is time for the young politicians to step forward and do something."

Some other famous sons taking the plunge in the 2008 polls include PPP leader Khalid Ahmed Kharal's son Haider from Toba Tek Singh, caretaker minister Riaz Ali Shirazi's son Aijaz from Thatta, Miran Shah's son Fayaz from Ranipur, former Sindh chief minister Arbab Zulfiqar's nephew Ghulam from Tharparkar, caretaker prime minister Muhammedmian Soomro's nephew Fahad from Jacocabad and former minister Sardar Ghous Bux Mahar's son Shaharyar.

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