Maulana Fazlur Rahman, president of his eponymous faction of the Jamiatul Ulema-i Islam, has hitched a ride with Shahbaz Sharif, president of the faction of his elder brother Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, to meet with former president Asif Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
“My dear brother Asif, I was thinking that your liberal brigade with you having people like Senator Sherry Rehman and Aitizaz Ahsan was doing an excellent job … for months … really for years they had been attacking Imran Khan, and look what we end up with.
“It means that the liberals enjoy no following among the people. I am simply lost for an answer. The liberals did not click. And you saw the drubbing that we, the religious parties got.
“I suspect the 22 years that Imran Khan has spent talking about providing justice and against corruption has hit home with the people,” said the profusely sweating Maulana Fazlur Rahman.
“Yes, Maulana, I too am worried. Liberals were our assets. I always thought they were useful in diverting peoples’ minds from issues like the lack of potable water, the lack of smooth power supply and the dearth of education. Instead, people were to believe that more important were things like freedom to drink, dance and party! But I still see that at least the liberals stood by us … stood by our party … they are still hitting out at Imran Khan,” a drained Zardari said.
“My dear brothers Asif and Shahbaz, yes the liberals stood with the PPP but isn’t it a fact that your liberals who had so much access to the media failed in growing and expanding their own liberal class?”
“Let me digress my brothers. You know all of your loyal media and your liberals are currently saying how Imran Khan will take along the six-member coalition. We should not live on this pipedream. Don’t we remember how he sailed smoothly with the coalition in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa. Indeed, it is such success that made PTI the first party to get reelected there,” said the Maulana.
Zardari continued, “I agree. About our liberals … Maulana you should know that it is not cheap to be a liberal in Pakistan.
“Do you know that alcohol permits issued to Pakistani Christians and other non-Muslims limit buyers to 100 bottles of beer or five bottles of liquor per month? In turn, they sell their permits at a premium. And then you have to buy the rest in the underground market. For example just one bottle of Black Dog whisky is more than ten thousand rupees… and our rupee in free fall.
“In fact, I too should start worrying as my stock is dwindling. When I was winding up my presidency, I used all of the entertainment allowance to order drinks. And my dear brother Shahbaz thanks to our dear Mian Nawaz Sharif, you folks elevated Mamnoon Hussain to the presidency who is happy with a paan. So why waste good stuff! I got all of it transferred to Bilawal House.
“Indeed Maulana, things are only going to get hotter for us. I am using our best lawyers but with Imran Khan taking over in a few days, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) won’t be easing on the Rs. 35 billion money laundering case they are pursuing against my sister, Faryal and me,” sighed Zardari.
A visibly distressed Shahbaz Sharif spoke, “Now Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) has announced that it is going after records of people who have traveled to Dubai during the last ten years. Not just Dubai, the FBR has sent similar requests to 101 countries to needle us on what they call ‘hidden assets’. FBR is also looking into the overseas investments of people.
“Now Imran Khan is going to reform FBR, The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, FIA and the National Accountability Bureau, make them neutral and independent and then leave it to them to act against tax evaders, money launderers and the corrupt.
“My dear brother Asif, I remember that what a wonderful job you did by hiring the right sort of lobbing firm in Washington, DC to pressurize Gen. Musharraf through George Bush to give you and our beloved sister Benazir and 8,000 of your party members pardon from prosecution through the National Reconciliation Order.
“I would suggest that we use your good offices to jointly hire a lobbying firm to get us through troubles like FBR and FIA. We can share the costs.”
A nervous Maulana, nearly falls off his sofa seat, “My dear brothers, who will share the costs? Why are you burdening me when I have lost all avenues to get fresh diesel import permits? Now where will I get the permits to sell?
“On August 5, I had to leave my publicly-paid minister’s house too.”
“Yes, Maulana that was a master stroke, more than a decade-and-a-half in a ministerial mansion without ever being a minister! Not at all, our dear Maulana, you have great skills. Look at the class you have exhibited in making the party, the Jamat-i Islami, that Maulana Abul Aala Maududi founded, to stand with us. He must be turning in his grave but you neatly netted its president, Maulana Sirajul Haq.
“We will not stop discussing this topic, and we will find solutions together. Right now my challenge is to see how we can get Bilawal take the teleprompter with him to the National Assembly every time he has to speak. I don’t want him to be seen reading written speeches. The teleprompter is a wonderful invention … your speech keeps rolling out hidden from all eyes.
“Yes, my friends, right now there is no smooth sailing but things will turn out for the better,” summed up Zardari.