Team Selection Matters

Former President Asif Zardari has called the now convicted former Prime Minister Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif at his son’s home in London to express solidarity with him.

“Mian Sahib, it is really a sad day for Pakistan that our contributions are not being valued and we are being hounded. I sincerely sympathize with you. I wish that you had a team like mine.

“You will remember the NRO that Gen. Pervez Musharraf was obliged to sign after he was pressured by President George W. Bush. Under the NRO, the Criminal Code of Procedure was amended to withdraw all cases against BB and me, and our party stalwarts filed by the government between January 1, 1986 and October 12, 1999. But you know things are not as simple as they seem.

“In February 2007, BB and I signed a contract with BKSH & Associates in Washington, DC to court American lawmakers, elite media and think tanks to advocate for democracy in Pakistan. Yes, my brother, democracy!

“We only paid them $250,000 for six months of work. See the work they did. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) introduced a resolution that U.S. aid to Pakistan should be determined by its ability to hold “free, fair and inclusive elections,” which then Senators Joseph Biden  and John Kerry cosponsored.

“And to go with it since October 2004, we had the Public-relations firm T. Dean Reed to represent us. Till 2007, we had paid them about $70,000. We chose BKSH with care: The “B” in BKSH is for Charlie Black, a Republican lobbyist and former Reagan administration official. The campaign has Democratic connections as well: Mark Penn was a top adviser to then Hillary … Sen. Hillary Clinton, was president of Penn Schoen and CEO of Burson-Marsteller, the corporate owner of BKSH.

The campaign focused on the press by scheduling editorial board meetings for BB with The New York Times and The Washington Post and targeted top journalists like Fareed Zakaria, who was then with Newsweek and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman.

“Mian Sahib, you also acknowledge our late BB’s foresight. Our contract arrived at a tense time when relations between Musharraf and the American government had soured.

“Our NRO was a smart move. It worked twice over for me. It allowed me safe passage to parliament (the president is part of it) and therefore gave me immunity. And it robbed my opponents of any opportunity to hit me.

“Mian Sahib, I am not trying to run you down. But while you put in what is about $40 million in London real estate but you left America unattended. And see what I did … I invested in America, England, France and Belgium, plus all the dozens of offshore accounts and the money kept in several Swiss banks, British banks and banks in Dubai.

Since 1996, I have retained Farooq Naek as my personal lawyer and legal counselor. What a man. Brilliant! No one has any hope before him. And I have rewarded him well. He has been our senator from Karachi since 2003. Twice he was our federal law minister. I also got him a 3-year term as Chairman of Senate.

“You remember when that girl Ayyan Ali got stopped at Karachi airport with a briefcase filled with half-a-million dollars, I put Farooq Naek as her attorney. Ayyan Ali is free. No one mentions her. When Dr. Asim Hussain was charged with a list of wrongs worth billions, and jailed, again I let Farooq Naek do the job. Now Dr. Asim is the chairperson of the Sindh Higher Education Commission.

“You remember that when this chief justice Chaudhury Iftikhar tried to get my Swiss cases reopened and my Swiss banks accounts pried, not only I had Farooq Naek on the job but also our great stalwart prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. What a guy as the Americans would say. Mian Sahib, you remember when we had that huge flood in 2010 and Emine Erdoğan, the Turkish first lady, who was visiting with her husband Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, donated her necklace for flood victims. Our great guy, Yousuf Raza simply pocketed it! I will say it again, what a guy! The estimated price of that necklace then was Rs. 1.6 million when 60 rupees equaled an American dollar. Now were at Rs 125.

“Mian Sahib, I wish you had asked. I would have recommended Farooq Naek. Not just that, I would have recommended you hire a lobbyist in Washington.

“Mian Sahib, don’t you agree that I excel in team selection. Just see Farooq Naek … Yousuf Raza … and so many … each of them more loyal to me, my children, and my family than a dog would be to his master.

“Mian Sahib, I only wish that you had invested in America too … that you had invested in lobbying in America … that you had Farooq Naek as your lawyer.

“Mian Sahib, not only Imran Khan keeps saying that he will come after me too and do what he has done to you, and also I also keep hearing rumors that those who tormented you are aiming to imprison me.

“Mian Sahib, no one can touch me … no one can touch my business and real estate ventures in so many countries. You need to acknowledge that skimming people’s money also requires building a team that can keep every problem brushed aside. My dear brother never forget that team selection matters.

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