Sleeping with the Secretary

“Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” — Henry Kissinger

Despite their staunch alliance, relations between Pakistan and the USA are … tense. If you were a Pakistani Prime Minister, what could be more natural than … a more personal approach to break the ice, to fill the yawning gap, to closely bring together two former intimates, these two strange bedfellows?

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“Shortcut” Aziz gets shot down

According to the new biography of Condoleezza Rice, Shaukat Aziz tried to (ahem) charm Dr. Rice when she visited Islamabad in 2005:

Aziz “tried this Savile Row-suited gigolo kind of charm: ‘Pakistan is a country of rich traditions,’ staring in (Rice’s) eyes …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,” the book says. [Link]

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p>Aziz was not some wide eyed naïf when it came to the ways of the West. He was a former ibanker, a VP at Citibank who had worked in London, Athens and New York. He may have had good reason to consider himself an experienced ladies man, a master of international affairs as it were, but he clearly met his match:

He bragged — to Western diplomats, no less — that he could conquer any woman in two minutes… 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 … By the end of the meeting, he was babbling. The Pakistanis were shifting uncomfortably. And his voice visibly changed…” [Link]

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p>He could conquer any woman in two minutes Pakistan’s response to these reports is that it’s all a cross-cultural misunderstanding:

Pakistan’s deputy information minister Tariq Azeem said that Aziz was only being polite. “The prime minister wanted to be nice with Dr. Rice,” Azeem told AFP. “Our tradition is that we should talk to women gently and decently and this was what the prime minister did…” [Link]

Poor Aziz. He completely miscalculated in his approach :

Rice, according to friends and family, had a thing for bad boys… [Link]

Although her name means “with sweetness”, nice guys finish last with Dr. Rice. Manmohan Singh would never have made that kind of rookie mistake, he would have shown Condi why you can’t spell aphrodisiac without desi. This is one part of Nehru’s legacy that we can all embrace.

100 thoughts on “Sleeping with the Secretary

  1. I’m sorry but this just cracks me up – the boasting about being able to conquer any woman is such a Panju male thing (I say this as a Panju) – particularly Delhi Panju :) And it’s not about whether she’s a bombshell or not, it’s the fact that she’s the US Secretary of State that makes her a particularly important notch on his, er, bedpost. It’s all about being able to boast to your buddies that you had this powerful American women cooing over you. I’ve seen it with uncles at weddings in desh too, trying to chat up the token Amriki woman guest and impress her with their commentary on American politics, and the preferred style is dramatic blanket statements and suggestions of Great Knowledge and Experience of the West (even if one has only visited the homes of relatives in the US). Sorry, but this is just really funny and familiar. I don’t care if he’s an ex-Citibank VP, he’s an uncle :) And the Pakistani foreign ministry response about talking to women “gently and decently” is even more typical in its combination of old-fashioned courtliness and condescension.

  2. Mumblings inside Obama circles is that Samantha Power would be the front runner for the State job. If, of course, certain things happen.

  3. Samantha Power?! That would be great! I had heard talk of Fareed Zakaria…now there’s a Brown Angle (TM)

  4. On Power, her work has been interpreted as wanting the job, in a Democratic administration, for some time:

    When I look at Samantha Power’s book on genocide — and I admire Samantha Power; I know her, she is a friend, I admire her — I feel this is the writing of someone who wants to be Secretary of State one day. It’s a campaign document as well as a very brilliant book. I don’t happen to agree with it, but I think it’s an absolutely brilliant book. But I also think it’s a campaign document. It’s a document of someone who wants a seat at the table.[link}

    I’ve yet to read her book but philosophically, the humanitarian interventionist view scares the pants off me. If you read the whole interview, Rieff has the same reaction.

  5. Manju, I don’t think it’s hate for i-bankers, I think it’s hate for smarm? Nothing more unattractive (for me, anyway), than a guy who thinks he can replace social grace and good manners by flashing his high-earning job, power, status, whatever, whatever, whatever.

    There’s not much I particularly like about Condi, but it must be such a pain in the ass to deal with all these smarmy [male] politician types who are used to being all “I am powerful and amazing” and getting tail. I can just imagine her giving him her patented STANK EYE(tm). Not hating on the guys, just saying, if Condi is shooting down sexist bullshit, then goooo Condi!

    Bunkerdudes, maybe a less frothily hormonal post next? I think it’s getting to the audience; they’re starting to dry-hump each other next to the lockers and make out in the hallways.

    Ooo, I vote for the new immigration “compromise.” Totally does not get the hormones going, but really interesting and relevant right now!

  6. another anti-pakistani article for sepia, keep on keepin on you guys!!!

  7. If anyone of you have had any interactions at all with black women, you’d find most of them are pretty tough cookies! Most of them have had to claw their way up in society against all sorts of prejudices, so the usual chat up lines or flattery doesnt hold any water…of course,western women get plenty of attention from males from a early stage,so most of them know how to handle any slimy lotharios.

  8. If anyone of you have had any interaction at all with black women, you’d find most of them are pretty tough cookies! Most of them have had to claw their way up in society against all sorts of prejudices, so the usual chat up lines or flattery doesnt hold any water…of course,western women get plenty of attention from males from a early stage,so most of them know how to handle any slimy lotharios.

  9. DesiDawg, have you had much interaction with Delhi Punjabis and Pakistani Punjabis?

    As for “analysis,” well I’m flattered that you took my little observation as such.

    No von Mises, I guess you’re right in that someone who is as committed to human rights as Samantha Powers might not go down so well after the discrediting of the Bushies’ interventionism, but I do admire her for at least being consistent and honest, unlike the Clintonian pragmatists who talked the talk without really delivering when it was most necessary (then again, I think their behaviour was understandable and even necessary given the lack of public support for their position in what is, after all, a democracy).

  10. This is the Usage Police visiting re

    DesiDawg, have you had much interaction with Delhi Punjabis and Pakistani Punjabis?

    WTF is deal with the proliferation of the word “interaction” among professionals these days ? Wouldn’t “DesiDawg, are you very familiar with Desi Punjabis and Pakistani Punjabis ?” be more effective and less MBAesque ? Forgive the digression: but every banking-sector call-centre executive in India these days ends a phone-call with, “Were you completely satisfied with this interaction ?” This would’ve wanted to make me scream, except that one day, a rookie ended a call with “Sir, were you completely satisfied with this intercourse ?” (End of digression.)

    More seriously: SP, I’ll have to go with DesiDawg (although I see that your observations @ #51 are meant in jest). What you say in #51 is accurate re Defence-Colony Panju uncles; or re a certain type of Punjabi-Bagh uncle. But none of the Rana-Pratap-Bagh or Kirti-Nagar Panju uncles I know fit your “sweeping generalization” :-)

  11. GB – hehe, I am not an MBA and am very sorry if I sounded like one ;) I thought “interaction” would be more specific and less vague than “familiarity.” But yes, I was referring to a certain variety of Punjabi uncle and I see you are familiar with the species too…Shaukat Aziz just sounds like a lot of my uncles and like some of the Pakistani Punjabi boys I knew in college. A very dear, familiar, but still hilarious species. End of “sweepong generalization.”

  12. I’m amazed that no one has questioned whether the incident actually took place as described? What’s up with his voice “visibly” changing? So he used his baritone voice on her — as opposed to his soprano voice? It’s written in a sleazy journalistic style intended to create controversy out of nothing and sell a book. It obviously struck a chord in a tabloidish way. The anti-pakistani sentiment is “visibly” apparent.

  13. Tend to agree with Rajiv … the entire scene looks straight out of some B-grade chick flick where the ‘hot young lady’ says some cheesy retort and tosses her hair in the face of an over-eager admirer … :) .

    Whatever the scene was in reality, it has served it’s purpose – to publicize her upcoming book.

  14. Rajiv Vij: Uh, actually, I question the veracity of this incident in #24.

    It’s not anti-Pakistani; honestly, how insecure are some of you that all you can see is anti- this and anti- that?

    They are public figures. Condi was made fun of for calling Bush, “my husband.” Her clothes, her former relationships, her current relationships are all fodder for the rumor mill, which is always the case with a high-profile politico; her case is interesting because she is a woman of color.

    Good grief. Anti- this and anti- that.

  15. You know, you have to wonder – who let out this bit of information into an authorized biography? Particularly at a delicate time in US-Pakistan relations? Dips are usually pretty, um, diplomatic and wouldn’t let out information like this lightly. It’s got to be quite embarrassing for Shortcut. Hard to imagine it would have got out there if Condi ruled against it.

  16. It’s got to be quite embarrassing for Shortcut. Hard to imagine it would have got out there if Condi ruled against it.

    Both Shuakat and Condi are still in office, so yes, it’s slightly un-precedented for a book from Newsweek’s chief correspondent to come out with innuendos like this, especially if he values his (and his media chain’s) access to official Washington. Then again, if you look at the literal content of what has appeared in the press – (and it looks like the ‘juicy bits’ are all out, trying to sell the book) – there is almost nothing there. He tried his ‘gigolo charm’? And she ‘stared him down’? What’s the big deal here?

    Are we seriously contemplating the possibility that the Pakistani PM would, ahem, get it on – with the US Secretary of State? Under any circumstances? Come on. I mean, he does have a wife and three kids, it’s not as if he was Imran Khan back when, or anything!

  17. Reads to me like a journalistic hit job on the brown man. File this with “desis have small penises” articles and all the desis featured on “To Catch A Predator”.

  18. Cultural misunderstanding is unlikely. Both had plenty of opportunities to observe the multi-culti ways of international business at their previous jobs. One of them is lying. We may never find out. I’m sure both their bosses want to avoid a pissing contest.

  19. Condi can look quite attractive in some pictures, such as this one. In fact, she may be the prettiest Secretary of State ever. :-) It’s her politics that I can’t stand.

    Yup, so true, when this and this are the competition. Something tells me Shaukat Aziz wouldn’t so much have put the moves on Madeleine Albright, not that I could stand her politics either.

  20. By this point she has done far more damage (to the world) than the first person linked, but she still has some ways to go to catch up with the notorious k-man. And yes, the piece reads like yellow journalism…and rather silly.

  21. I don’t think Aziz gave it his all. He should have told her tales about the bravery of his Scytho-Punjabi ancestors and how they beat up the proto-pointdexters of Taxila University and gave them swirlies using 3000 year old IVC flush toilets

    Damn Scythians get all the babes….

  22. Louiecypher – LMAO!

    I don’t think Shortcut ever thought he’d get it on with Condi, for a lot of folks who pride themselves on their powers of seduction it’s more about being able to say “she was really taken with me.”

  23. “wow. the majority of comments are about looks rather than what’s written. the idea that he would “dare” to brag about his sexual prowress to western aka mostly white diplomats, the face that most (male) politicians still view women (whether in power or not) primarily as sexual objects and the idea that he, as the native brownie that he is, wouldn’t possibly know how to pick up on a western woman with his bkward native ways…those are the things i found interesting. not whether condi is hot or uncle’s gotta hit the gym”

    Couldn’t agree more. I would have imagined that the newsworthy bit in the story is (as pointed out) the subtext – the undertone of condescension (“he bragged to Western diplomats, no less “) towards the Pakistani politician, the rather tired framing of the East-West encounter as a seduction (I yawned at “strange bedfellows”).

    Some of the assumptions in the post – Aziz may have had good reasons to consider himself an experienced ladies man – are completely vacant of justification.

    Oh surprise surprise, I am going to get called a troll for stating my disagreement with this post. And don’t forget to trot out the old cliche about how this is a personal blog and the bloggers are entitled to their own (unsubstantiated) opinions.

  24. “aphrodisiac without desi”…………hahahahahahahahahahahahaha………..i guess the desi definition of aphrodisiac involves parents, “shame shame”, prostitutes, romance/severe emotional instability, other such wonderful qualities

  25. “desis have small penises”

    that article was about indians specifically, don’t get it twisted…

  26. another anti-pakistani article for sepia, keep on keepin on you guys!!!

    So, the Sepia Mutiny undercover agenda has been rumbled! The game is up guys. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    Good work, noo york — Pakistanis can sleep safely now.

  27. tried this Savile Row-suited gigolo kind of charm

    The sad thing is that this startegy works with quite a few women — walk around any rich city and you’ll see it. London, Geneva, Paris, Coventry (OK, maybe not Coventry). ‘Savile Row’ 50 and 60 year olds greasy men with attractive women in their twenties hanging on their every word. These men only exist because some women let them exist.

  28. Noo York: You are so fortunate with your Scytho-Kambhoja-Greco patrilineal descent to have escaped the curse that afflicts us peninsular men. I have said it once and I’ll say it again “Damn you Scythians and the mojo you have over our women !”. I mean your luck seems to have no bounds…it’s like the ISI has captured a Leprechaun and is forcing him under duress to bestow riches upon the glorious land of your birth.

    To all the Pakistanis who seem upset by this, Imran Khan’s macking skillz make up for Aziz’s ineptness. I mean, home boy talked a London society girl into a burkha ! Damn Scythians….

  29. To address Ennis’ comment quickly and late:

    I’m sorry if I wasn’t articulate/clear enough. What I was attempting to reference were bits about Aziz’s voice changing and his inability to be “successful” with ms rice being tied to cultural/native machismo issues. I intended to agree with the tone of your post and express frustration at the words of those you quoted. I was motivated by the point you made about his experience, education and thus knowledge of western culture rather than the bumbling man these journalists attempt to paint him as.

  30. “Couldn’t agree more. I would have imagined that the newsworthy bit in the story is (as pointed out) the subtext – the undertone of condescension (“he bragged to Western diplomats, no less “) towards the Pakistani politician,”.

    Nice reframe, May. I agree 100%.

  31. punjabi paki cheeseballs are the world’s greatest players

    Seriously dude, they’re not, I’ve seen the aftermath of punjabi paki cheeseballs making plays on friend girls of mine, and it is very greasy and comedic! But hey, sleazy Indian ‘pimps’ are no different, the Don Quixote’s of the romance world. As I said there are some women who fall for their charms and short of a mental illness inspection, we can only appreciate their success with ladies as being analogous with the natural world’s phenomenon of certain flies alighting helplessly on shit.

  32. Aziz should have known that Condi is into younger guys, like Peter McKay, Canada’s Foreign Minister….and also that this rumored romance has done nothing for Canada/US softwood lumber disputes.

  33. SP @ 51 and Red Snapper@ 88, Next time you’re in Mumbai, be sure to check the rainbow coalition of Punjabi, Sindhi, Gujarathi, Marathi and yes, Amreeki uncles in action. Don’t miss the growing ranks of sugar aunties too. Sort of toxic spin on equality, that. As an uncle in trainee wheels I take umbrage. They’re bringing us down. Sob! Also, what does it say about a woman who falls for this two-minute noodle approach to wooing?

  34. I can’t seem to get past the “his voice visibly changed.”

    His voice…visibly…changed? Visibly?

    But…how? That’s a hell of a change, since presumably it was invisible before the change.

  35. she is an “auntie” and he is an “uncle”. Made for each other. She called him “brownie”. Should he have called her “Kaali” or is “Nigger” a better word ? Is one racist insult better than another?

  36. Uh, Melbourne Desi, are you on crack? I’m fairly certain that Condi did not actually call him “brownie.” So your eager leap to the n-word can step back, jack. You’re way off base.

  37. Perhaps melbourne is mixing up Dubya’s nickname for his former FEMA head.

  38. Condi looks like a black dick….but Aziz is such an idiot fucking asshole he lost all his respect and the right to be a man…he def need some lessons before doing any attemp like that…at the end I appreciate Condi she did a good job sorry condi for calling you that in the start..