Ahsan Iqbal, member of the National Assembly of the Nawaz Sharif faction of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), and former minister for interior and minister for planning, development and reforms in the Abbasi cabinet, has invited Pakistan Peoples Party leaders Sen. Raza Rabbani, who served as the 7th chairman of the Senate of Pakistan and Farhatullah Babar, party spokesman, who has served as press secretary of the former President Asif Zardari to dine with him at 1969, a unique themed-based restaurant that aspires to relive the golden 60’s of Pakistan, across from the Lok Virsa museum. It is known as the food haunt like no other in Islamabad.
They three share the heartbreak of being members of parties that lost in the 2018 elections.
Of course the topic of discussion is the new prime minister, Imran Khan’s inaugural speech of Aug. 19.
Iqbal, a Wharton School of Finance graduate, opens the discussion, “Last night, all of us heard the ‘big’ speech. Of course, all of us saw that he is a retired cricketer who is unable to comprehend the idea of politics or state mechanisms.
“Senator Rabbani, not just that, but you will agree that by refusing to live in the Prime Minister’s house, he doesn’t benefit from the aura that exists there due to our so many prime ministers who have lived there. Our Nawaz Sharif thrice and your Benazir Bhutto, twice.
“My dear Raza Rabbani and Farhatullah Babar, we see Imran proving what we have said all along that he is a military stooge. Naturally, instead, he moves into the three-bedroom quarters built for the prime minister’s military secretary.”
They blurt out together, “Ahsan you are on the dot. We have discussed this issue. President Zardari fears that Imran may develop a military mindset living in this place.
“Ahsan did you hear that, as if not living in the PM’s house was not enough, he says he does not intend to make any foreign tours over the next three months unless there is a pressing matter in need to be addressed. Flying overseas with large retinues is among the privileges of office.”
Sen. Rabbani asks, “Why did Imran stand in the elections when wants nothing, except serving Pakistan. I tell you, Ahsan he is the ruining the peoples’ minds. Now on, they will expect the same from everyone. Indeed, our President Zardari keeps reminding that public service is not for free.”
Ahsan continues, “Did you see that on day one, he appoints a foreign minister! Our beloved and respected, Nawaz Sharif did not appoint one for four-and-a-half years.
“Probably, he was living with a lot of generators in his Bani Gala house, because despite the robust tradition of almost daily and almost daylong power cuts, Imran did not mention the energy crisis in his speech! Does he have a thought about electricity generation? I doubt it, my friends.
“This Imran government is unskilled and unacquainted, they will need to go through kindergarten,” he is joined by his invitees in the guffaws.
“We were criticized in the past for not appointing a full-time interior minister. But does he know that the interior ministry is even more important given the security situation in the country? Imran has kept himself this important portfolio because he says he will go hard against what he consider is ‘corruption’.”
Babar adds his bit, “We thought that Imran would provide a program for the future, but he just repeated the same things that people already know … his same old song about corruption and that he will come hard against it. I think this is his scare tactics against us. Look he placed Mian Nawaz and Maryam on exit control list.
“God bless our President Zardari is a genius … inimitable! Did you see how he entered the court looking haggard, limping and supported by Aseefa. Pronto the court granted him bail for a mere Rs. 500,000.”
“You are right, Babar, in his address, Imran outlined issues that already exist in manifestos of all parties. And did you see he wants to grab Mian Nawaz’s Avenfield property, extradite his sons, and our finance minister Ishaq Dar for trial in Pakistan. But selling Avenfield won’t settle Pakistan’s debts. Let the boys live there. God bless, both of our parties have done an excellent job in piling up the debt burden. Tell me which corporation functions without debt? You have to spend lavishly to reflect that you have the power. But what Imran is saying belt tightening and sacrifices.
“You know how he is always citing examples of European countries. I think he is impressed by the way Greece has saved itself from going bust by drastically cutting spending and implementing painful economic reforms.”
Rabbani offered, “Imran lacks the ability to carry everyone along with him. He is already fighting with both of us and will fight with all political parties while going against corruption. He is after our lifeblood.
“We can’t let him succeed.”
Babar added, “We have to keep repeating that he came to power through a stolen election.”
“You are right my friends. We can’t let the people off the hook … they have to be kept in debt … they have to feel life with frequent power breakdowns … soaring prices.
“We have to keep reminding Imran that running the country is unlike captaining a team.”