At Least Let Us Cry

Ayyash Sardar, president of the Anjuman-i-Masoomian Liberalism, has nearly wrecked his thumb calling friends, contacts, and organizations trying to find a presenter for planned wake to shed tears over the near wipeout of the candidates that the liberals banked upon.

Someone suggested that they hire a zakir — who recite the soulful words at the Majlis-e Azza – the bereavement meeting held during Muharram — to commemorate the shock received by liberalism. A suggested reciter is Wahshat Marsiavi who is known to create such a heartbreaking ethos that attendees need cups for their billowing tears.

His co-organizer, Firoz “Billy” Bottalwala, chairman of Pakistani Liberals Defense Fund, is equally concerned.

“Billy, this is astounding! Of course, first I tried the local Catholic parishes. They could not fathom what we wanted to do. You know the wake is based in part on the Celtic traditions of Ireland. Now where to find an Irish person in Karachi or Pakistan who is familiar with Celtic traditions! So it was suggested that we substitute with a zakir. But there is no zakir available anywhere … my thumb is gone nearly dead calling people.

“It is not Muharram when the Shia engage these zakirs for hosting their Majlis-e Azza.

“I am offering them better than what they are paid during Muharram but they say that their services are in huge demand as every liberal you can think of wants their own Majlis-e Azza,” blurted a dejected Ayyash Sardar.

“Ayyash, I am doing my bit. Our presenter P.K. “Pinky” Golemaal said no desi beer … so Murree Brewery is out. I heard that some boats are arriving from the Gulf with Bud and all. All this stuff too is in high demand. Everyone is demanding a premium.

“I guess, we need to listen to our ‘Dozy’ … you know ‘Dozy’ Gobarwala. The Gobarwalas who have made and indeed are making their money from bank defaults. I know I am straying off the topic but her Dad is well-connected and a genius I must say. She tells me whenever he needs cash, he simply gets the indebted business declared bankrupt, when the amount loaned by it is already safe in his Cayman Islands stash. Listen … that is not all … next, she says, he goes to ‘Uncle Asif’ … that is Asif as in Asif Zardari and he helps him get another loan,” he adds with a wink, “… of course a loan never intended to be returned.

“So now let get me back to what Dozy has suggested that we should arrange in a way that folks can express their grief in a less-structured environment. I would say that let us pass the Wahshat guy and focus on a real cool liberal to get us the action … things that come from the heart.

“Dozy says that we should invite Sherry Rehman to lead our wake. She speaks so highly of her, and says that one only has to see her sitting in Zardari’s Darbar, head bowed and silent as a courtier … singing praises of Bilawal’s inherited ruling genes.

“Sherry goes way back with the party. She was sent to National Assembly on a reserved seat in 2002. Her husband, Nadeem was Shaukat Aziz’s protégé at Citibank … and you know that Citibank and Shaukat Aziz were featured in U.S. Senate Finance and Sub-Committee’s hearing on Zardari’s money laundering.

“Sherry, she says, feels the hurt. Benazir and Asif are her and her family’s lifeblood. In 2005, Nadeem started the Tameer Finance Bank Limited (TMFB). Since the start of its operations, this micro-finance bank was in continuous losses. In 2007, the loss after tax increased to Rs. 228 million compared to the loss of Rs. 50 million in 2006. Because of the losses, the bank’s equity subsequently reduced to Rs. 335 million in 2007 from Rs. 551 million in financial year 2006.
The loss of Rs. 44 million in the first quarter of 2008 further deteriorated the equity base. As per JCR VIS Credit Rating Company, the bank’s outlook was negative. Lo and behold, Nadeem requested the government-owned National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) for Rs. 300 million call line … smart move to ask big. NBP did its due formalities that this was too much and diligently gave them a Rs. 100 million loan.

“Dozy say that the NBP President Ali Raza knowing who the wife is, approved the loan, not desiring the lady minister’s wrath. For Sherry, the liberal cause is dear … she being a public representative has the right to public money … after all micro banks serve the poor, the downtrodden … the ones nearest and dearest to the liberals … the ones cooking their food, washing their dishes, minding their lawns, minding their children, providing them security … and being at their beck and call for crumbs,” confided Billy.

“My dear, it is not cheap to be a liberal in Pakistan. This reformist election is a threat to the well being of the liberal lot.

“Billy, yes, at least let us cry … and properly. Yours and Dozy’s will be done. We will have Sherry … oh yes, I will add sherry to my order … Harvey’s Bristol … and of course Fino NV Emilio Hidalgo La Panesa Especial!” declared Ayyash.

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