How will I face King Salman?

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called a national security and foreign affairs huddle at his Jati Umra residence.

The rumblings in the Senate have clouded the chief executive’s countenance. Of course, he needed reinforcement to wade through the issue, at least get a notion of what was going on. The order of the day was a hearty nihari breakfast. And he has entered the conference room with his waiter following him with a tall glass of lassi with triple khoya.

Sartaj Aziz, his advisor on foreign affairs, has told the Senate that morning that the Government of Pakistan was awaiting details of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition of 34 countries against terrorism.

Among the present are Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the Prime Minister’s Special adviser Tariq Fatemi as well as his National Security Advisor and advisor on the foreign policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, and Defense Minister Khawaja Asif. Maryam Nawaz, the 2018 future foreign minister, sits besides her father.

Sartaj Aziz’s statement has put the Prime Minister in a spin. It was only the other day that upon returning from China, he saw on the TV screen in the lounge that Aizaz, the Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said he was surprised to learn in news reports that Pakistan had been included in a coalition of 34 Muslim countries against terror. Not only that he even told the TV that he wasn’t even consulted about the inclusion in the Saudi-led coalition.

In fact, the Prime Minister had summoned him and warned him if he again forgets about our love of His Majesty King Salman, he will immediately transfer him and post him in the Department of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony. The chief executive had explained that then everyone would be laughing at him. Instead of traveling to Paris and London and Washington, he would be dashing from some madrassah to some church to temple, wearing whatever costume they demand.

But now! S-a-r-t-a-j A-z-i-z! This was stretching it a bit too much.

The Prime Minister was regretting the day that he made the Charter of Democracy with the PPP, when Asif Zardari has a PPP stalwart Raza Rabbani as Senate Chairman.

Under his breath, the Prime Minister kept repeating: they want me to make my salt haram, when I always make my salt halal. Hasn’t he repeatedly told everyone that Nawaz Sharif only makes his salt halal, and everyone with a mind knows that how much salt Nawaz Sharif has eaten from Saudi Arabia!

Yes, Sartaj Sahib had told the Senate that we avoid complicating the process by prematurely discussing it.

The Prime Minister finally emerges from his perplexing thought and addresses his foreign policy advisor: Sartaj Sahib, while I appreciate your efforts in trying to cool down Raza Rabbani, but you should have clearly told the Senate that you and everyone near to me knows that Nawaz Sharif only makes his salt halal.

Now why this discussion once again, when we had ironed out the issues and the Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah had announced last week that Pakistan is part of the Saudi led coalition against terrorism and we are in contact with them to know about our role.

Aizaz Chaudhry is here and he had rejected the remarks attributed to him as incorrect and misleading. Chaudhry Sahib had asserted that he had been misquoted. He told me that in response to questions during his informal interaction with journalists on 15 December 2015, he had merely said that “we are ascertaining details” about the announcement made by Saudi Arabia concerning the alliance. As guided by him, his office had also given the same response to the reporters who contacted them. And they issued a formal response later in the day welcoming the formation of the alliance.

I am sure that Rabbani Sahib knows as clearly as his chief Asif Zardari that Nawaz Sharif only makes his salt halal. So why this debate?

Sartaj Sahib, you know that I do not go with a translator when I meet with His Majesty King Salman, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, because anything he says, I only say naam Ya Sahib-i Jalalah.

When the third time Minister of Pakistan has said naam, yes! so why this useless debate?

I heard that Rabbani was trying to score points against you that you are not in a position to give satisfactory answers to specific questions on the issue raised by him and some opposition members.

I am told that Rabbani questioned that we have decided to become part of a coalition without being able to inform parliament about its details.

Uff, Raza Rabbani still does not know that our beloved Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not operate through any parliament.

Even this Tahir Mashhadi asked you to tell the house against whom this coalition had been formed. He termed the decision to join the alliance a violation of the decision of a joint sitting of parliament on the Yemen situation.

I know because of Rangers, Altaf Bhai and MQM are not happy with us, Sartaj Sahib, didn’t you tell Tahir Mashhadi that our dear brother His Majesty King Salman, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, knows everything because he has initiated this scheme.

Sartaj Sahib, I only hope that my dear brother His Majesty King Salman, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, is not told that you said that every country had the right to decide which activity it was going to participate in. You know what His Majesty will ask me: what is a right?

Nawaz Sharif only makes his salt halal, and when I said naam Ya Sahib-i Jalalah, how can we start this and that story!

I think that I should leave for Umrah tonight and explain everything to my respected brother King Salman.

Salt is salt and Nawaz Sharif only makes his salt halal.

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