from ‘The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan’

1427310496ZAKARIATheUpstairsWifecover666Rafia Zakaria at Dissent:

July 15, 1961

The trouble had begun in the 1950s, when Mohammad Ali Bogra, the prime minister of Pakistan, fell in love with his secretary. No one begrudged the boss, balding and middle aged, his dalliance. He was, after all, a powerful man, adept at making the right impression. When he spoke, it was with just enough British vowels pinned to his Bengali consonants to announce his class, and with just enough stately reserve to proclaim his pedigree. When he put on his neatly tailored suits he added a carefully chosen tiepin or a curious boutonniere: the hint of nonconformity that would lend him an air of (utterly unthreatening) eccentricity.

It could have been predicted—even expected—that such a master of aesthetic arithmetic would wish to sample the best of what was available beyond amenities like cigars and wine. The secretary he romanced was not just any woman shuffling papers, but a white woman, an American, selected by the discerning Mr. Bogra while he served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States before he became prime minister.

Despite his savvy with suits, accent, and politics, in the matters of the heart Mohammad Ali Bogra made a miscalculation. In adding up the delights his new companion could offer, and in glibly remembering that he, as a Muslim and as prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, was allowed four such companions, he left out an essential digit.

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