Michelle Obama is probably one of the most fun First Ladies in the world right now. She has a playful sense of style, she wears lots of local brands and favours colour. Then there are those legendary arms of hers—she obviously does go to the gym. She is also spearheading the ‘Let’s Move’ programme across America, which is an initiative to combat childhood obesity. She’s roped in all kinds of people to support it, from the US water polo team to film stars, and the website includes ‘The President’s Challenge’, a rewards programme to encourage people to eat healthier and an app to help you find the park closest to your house. Mrs. Obama has done all kinds of things to promote ‘Let’s Move’, from appearing on Sesame Street to dancing with the stars of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, a very popular competitive dance show, or in a hilarious skit with Jimmy Fallon on his late night show. Mrs. Obama is intelligent and funny and dedicated; she’s the kind of person you’d want to have brunch with. One can say what one likes about American politics but the Obamas are approachable, laid-back and just plain cool.

And then we have Reham and Kulsoom.

We haven’t got a First Lady, only a black hole. I haven’t seen Mrs. Sharif in public even once these past few PML-N years. I don’t even know if she’s in the country or not. I’ve seen more of Samantha Cameron, another Mrs. Prime Minister, than I have my own country’s Mrs. Embodying the apathy and complete lack of connection with the vote bank that seems to be the hallmark of our Prime Minister’s PR approach, Mrs. Sharif is under the radar with a vengeance. Edward Snowden could learn a few things from her. Far be it for her to adopt a cause or champion an initiative like ‘Let’s Move’; we’d be lucky to just clap eyes on her. The Obamas hosted the White House’s annual Easter party this April, where the President was seen high-fiving little kids and Mrs. Obama got funky on stage. Imagine Mr. and Mrs. Sharif hosting an Eid party at the PM House for 35,000 people (more than that came to the White House one), and then mingling with the crowd, talking to people and just hanging out. One almost feels wistful.

Then we have the First Lady hopefuls, which is basically Mrs. Khan because who knows who has the courage to be Mrs. Altaf Hussain and one cannot certifiably confirm the new Mrs. Zardari. One had hope for her. One even wrote a column in her defence. She is an articulate, intelligent professional, someone with a decent education and luckily no inclination towards wearing puff-sleeve blazers. One really felt that finally we had someone who could actually host a State Dinner with something nearing aplomb, or for once actually be what First Ladies are: a presence of their own, a softer side to the politics of state. Instead, she tells women to stop complaining. #WhinerGate has happened, and nothing can save Reham from the disgust of thousands of Pakistanis across the world as their eyebrows collectively shoot into their hairlines and their fingers start typing outraged op-eds. She hasn’t issued an apology or an explanation, not even a lame duck “the magazine-wallahs edited what I really said”. Instead she has tweeted that she finds some of the really rather good critical op-eds ‘disgusting’. What’s disgusting is an entitled, rich woman who lives in a gigantic house by a lake telling other women to stop whining about their lives. If she had qualified that statement, one would have had more sympathy—if she had said that she meant privileged rich women need to get over themselves and do something more useful for the third-world country they live in than buy fur coats at ridiculous exhibitions, it would have made perfect sense. Or if she had said that upper-middle class women shouldn’t whine because they have had every opportunity to make something of themselves, and if their diamond shoes are too tight then they really do deserve one’s scorn. But she didn’t, and so the dream has fled.

For a country that elected a female Prime Minister twice, it seems odd that we have no expectations from our First Ladies, and no party thinks it relevant to include the wives of hopefuls in any kind of campaigning or government activities. It couldn’t be because the women aren’t capable of holding babies, smiling and waving or sitting on manjis to chat with the ladies. That isn’t rocket science, and you don’t need a college degree to do it. Heck, even our electoral hopefuls barely have college degrees, and they end up running the state! All parties do have are miserable little Women’s Wings that are toothless little units where one parks the ladies, pats them on the head and tells them not to make too much noise while the big men talk. Oh for a real First Lady with a personality, with a genuine interest in people, with a cause to espouse. Oh for a First Lady who would promote birth control, who would speak out against child marriage, who would have Eid Milan parties for beggar children, who would work to eliminate hunger in this country. One doesn’t even ask for a stylish, witty, fun First Lady who would come on the Azizi show or wear funky khussas on official trips abroad. Just one who was a real person, who could use her potential to make an actual difference in a real, honest and kind way. What a pity that even this seems like too much to ask.