The former President, Asif Ali Zardari is absolutely livid as he engages with his inner circle and some senior party officials. In attendance are his children, Bilawal, Bakhtawar, and Aseefa; and his sister Faryal Talpur. Besides the family members are Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Secretary-General Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, Leader of Opposition in the Senate Sherry Rehman, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khurshid Shah, party Secretary Information Ch. Manzoor Ahmad, and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.
A copy of the May 22 issue of The News is lying on the table, folded open to Murtaza Ali Shah’s report that PPP hired a lobbying firm in Washington for one month in February this year and paid $100,000 fees for setting up meetings and media interviews for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
“How on earth such nonsense gets published in The News! Syed Murad Ali Shah you are the Sindh Chief Minister, I want to know it from you! Yes, you, Shah Sahib!
“And if I am not wrong this Murtaza Ali Shah is based in London, so how is he reporting about Washington, D.C.?
“Why it has not been denied by us as yet? Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmad, you are the party Secretary Information, so why it got into print? Aren’t you delivering the goodies to the media people?
“Why no one from the party told this Murtaza that my Bilawal is Washington. D.C.’s apple of the eye … in fact, America’s apple of the eye? This is simply telling the world that even to see an elected American representative, we had to pay $100,000 … translated, it means that The News is telling people that we have no personal rapport in Washington, D.C.
“Yes, it may be history to some. But I am the only Pakistani about whom in 1999, the American Senate subcommittee on banking held a hearing about my money laundering.
“I am in tune with President Trump’s transactional relations policy as I have multiple properties in America … in New York City … in Florida … I am the source of jobs and taxes. So I am someone there, and if some elected officials met with Bilawal, we did not need a lobbyist. Our family has deep ties in America.
“His mother and ambassador Peter Galbraith went to Harvard … and when our Living Leader, Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was president, Peter’s father John was the American ambassador here. Peter was ten years old then, and had met Benazir who was also a child then. We go a long way with Americans!
“This nonsense is most damaging to our stature and indeed to the memory of great leaders, Mr. Bhutto and Benazir.
“We need to issue a strongly worded statement saying that the News report is full of untruths. We need to press the fact that Bilawal was invited by Woodrow Wilson Institute to talk about the need of a strong democracy in Pakistan to defeat terrorism and extremism.
“This Mir Shakeelur Rahman and his Jang/News Group needs to be fixed. Mr. Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah just totally ban all government advertising to Mir’s group. Let him come begging to me! In fact call Nasir just now … your Minister for Information Syed Nasir Hussain Shah and ask him to tighten the screws on Mir Shakeel.
“You wont find such drivel in The Daily Times, the late Salman Taseer was ours and his family is loyal to us.
“Sherry, you can understand how damaging is this that we paid $100,000 for just one month of lobbying – like Rs. 12 crore. Next time, I will go to America with Bilawal. I can call on friends like Rafat Mahmood who invited the governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe and so many elected representatives to his house to dine with me. I did not even give him $100. I am sure that Rafat would have mentioned my name to them and they came rushing to meet me … to get photographed with me.
“Sherry, you were with me when we went to National Prayer Breakfast with President Obama.
“Sherry, you come with me. Next week we are going to America. We need to warn the Americans about Imran Khan, especially when American have no idea what is cricket. We need to impress upon them that they can trust the nuclear button with a cricketer! You need to get Rafat and our Senator Dr. Akbar Khawaja on the move! Murad Ali you can sanction $250,000 as payment for lobbying in Washington, D.C., under head for attracting industry to Sindh.
“Meanwhile, this News has to be cleared immediately! We have to tell the world that it is just lies, lies, lies … It is the Bhutto name that draws American leaders to us.”