Maulana Fazalur Rahman of his eponymous faction of the Jamiat-e Ulema-i Islam (JUI-F) has come down for breakfast in a somber mood, if the word somber describes it. He has not even touched the once piping hot nihari and naan, and the halva and puree laid out by his host, Sen. Muhammad Talha Mahmood, the JUI-F deputy parliamentary leader in the Senate.
“Talha, did you see the news this morning? The very same people … yes, the very same people who formed the Pakistan Alliance for Free and Fair Elections with my party … with me … are socializing with Imran Khan’s people.
“This is utterly disgusting. I have been calling them to boycott everything connected to Imran.
“Of all people, the outgoing National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq … yes, I can give him some consideration. He was Imran’s childhood friend … and he even tried to break open his head with a hockey stick while playing with him … now this very Ayaz, meekly standing between Asad Qaiser, their nominee for NA speaker with PTI’s Fawad Chaudhry … and at the Speaker’s House!
“Imagine a few days ago, Sherry Rehman and Maryam Aurangzeb were tugging at my son’s arm begging him to speak …
“Now Fawad is meeting with PPP leader Khursheed Shah and saying that both PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif and PPP chairman Bilawal are invited to the oath-taking ceremony. No consideration that Imran got his brother Nawaz locked up. Shameless people!
“And imagine, I gave my word for supporting Khursheed for speaker!
“I had even assured Asif Zardari that I will use our votes in the Senate to help make an exception that Bilawal uses the teleprompter when speaking in the National Assembly … that boy needs his speech in Romanized Urdu and his father can’t let him be seen reading a speech in Urdu from the wrong side, left to right. Even Asif is sending him to that oath taking. Has he forgotten that the Rs. 35 billion money laundering case against him and his sister, Faryal, is still on? Has he forgotten that they are trying to open the Swiss case, where both Asif and Benazir were convicted for accepting bribes from a Swiss company, which was taken for the customs collection monopoly for Karachi port? Gen. Musharraf had closed the affair through his National Reconciliation Order (NRO) … indeed that was Asif and Benazir’s masterstroke done through hiring a good lobbyist in Washington, D.C. who bamboozled both Republicans and Democrats into asking George W. Bush to pressure the general to forgive their crimes through the NRO.
“Talha did you note that it is after … yes, after PTI’s Jehangir Tareen publicly criticizes Shahbaz for, what they are calling, his ‘wrong policies’ and vowed that his party would hold a transparent audit of all departments.
“My dear Talha, you are in the Senate, God forbid, if they try to open any investigation on how I lived in a ministerial residence and enjoyed the perks for more than 16 years without ever holding a cabinet position, you should put your foot down! Don’t let it happen!
“My brother … my dear Talha, our dear Nawaz and Asif have left some great work. This Anti Money Laundering Act of 2010 made money laundering a ‘non cognizable offense’ where law enforcement agencies cannot investigate the matter at their own, except with court permission. It is such a fine law, when in fiscal offenses, the burden of proof is always on the accused to prove his innocence but here this provision is not included.
“I tell you, if not today, then tomorrow, as soon as Imran gains majority in the Senate in 2021, they will scrap this law.
“Talha this Imran is set against keeping public life attractive for people … who will take so much stress for nothing! You tell me.
“Talha, I don’t know why Sherry is still here … Asif should have sent her to London and Washington, D.C. … she was ambassador there … to warn them that Imran will kill liberalism. You know, my dear, Talha, yes, both Trump and Theresa May are not liberals but they want liberalism to flourish in our countries, otherwise who will buy their Scotch whiskies and American beers!
“My son, Asad, is new to politics. I am going to ask Asif to train him in the art of money laundering. Even if it is co-ed sessions with Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Aseefa. I am sure I have given him good grounding in dealing with import permits.
“At our last meeting with our opposition colleagues, I had asked that not only we reject the election results, but we also refuse to celebrate Independence Day because it is just four days before Imran enters the prime minister’s office, which was mine!
“But when I see all of them hungering for invitations just because they hope to meet with some retired cricketers, I ask, this is not how friends act.”