Former President Asif Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, is in an emergency meeting with Shahbaz Sharif, president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. Also present are their sons, Bilawal and Hamza Shahbaz.
“My brother Shahbaz, with our brother Mian Nawaz locked up, every day finds things going downhill. I am worried for the day when our Bilawal and Hamza Shahbaz get their birthright due.
“Did you see what all Imran Khan did in the second meeting of his cabinet? He banned his and his ministers’ discretionary funds. Even for his provincial cabinets! But we wont let him touch our Sindh perks. Period,” exclaimed Zardari.
“I know what a huge setback it is. When my brother, my Bhaijan was prime minister, just last year, he spent Rs. 21 billion from those funds. In addition, he gave Rs. 40 billion to our party’s lawmakers for their own development, I mean, projects. It was just a total expenditure of Rs. 51 billion. Even our gentler than a lamb President Mamnoon Hussain used to get Rs. 80 million in discretionary funds
“My dear brother Asif Zardari do you remember how our Nawaz Sharif used to distribute projects during his rallies across the country. At least people use to feel the joy. Now Imran says that this will not happen again.
“Imran is outright obnoxious. He said that discretionary funds are contempt of taxpayers’ money.
“What is more disturbing is that he has revoked the discretionary powers of all the ministers to grant funds. Now all the uplift projects will be discussed in the Parliament and their approval would be given after a detailed review. One only wonders then what are prime ministers for … why does one become a cabinet member?” said Shahbaz.
Zardari countered, “Not only that, Imran also took a swipe at us that we used the national exchequer like our own property. Wow…wow. We need to ask him, then what are rulers for?
“Imran is taking the law in his hands. As all of us feared, he is returning the prime minister’s aircraft that was used for foreign visits to the national airline. Now not only him but also the president, chief justice, military chiefs, parliament speakers, and other senior officials will travel with the people in passenger planes and use club class, not even first classes. He has surrendered his entitlement to the first-class travel for international tours.
“Uff … imagine, your head of state lands at a public airport, so where do they give him the red carpet welcome … where do they present him the guard of honor. You can’t have the President of United States roaming around in the lounge at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. waiting to receive our head of state.
“Did you see on your TV the measly security detail and protocol with which Imran is going around town? This is an insult to the office. He has blown away all the pomp and splendor of the office …”
Shahbaz interjected,“Indeed. Yes. I used get all traffic stopped on my route and take at least thirty vehicles. Even Hamza used more escort vehicles!”
“Shahbaz, you are the leader of the opposition. So there go your perks. Imran has asked National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar to curtail his Secretariat’s expenses to the possible extent.
“My dear Shahbaz, this is not all. In the name of finding more cash for the people, Imran, who you know has retained the interior ministry, will vigorously pursue money laundering and corruption cases against us. You see that you have got notices, and my sister Faryal and I were again summoned by the Federal Investigation Agency. It is insulting! Low-level bureaucrats asking the former president of Pakistan and his sister to answer their questions! Unimaginable.
“I hear that Imran is even considering withdrawing the Rs. 5000 note. Imagine sending money out of Pakistan in small denominations. Instead of carry-ons, you will need suitcases. Absolute horror,” said Zardari.
“My dear brother Asif Zardari, Imran has weakened the most powerful tool we used to wield. He has told both Pakistan Television and Radio Pakistan to give equal coverage to all political parties and their leaders and there would be no editorial censorship for both. Remember, how both of us kept Imran barred from these media.
“And woe to the poor government employees. He is changing the working hours to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from, what we always had, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. On top of that, he said that it would also be ensured that public servants dedicate full time to their jobs during the working hours. Not just public service…so now who would like to work for the government?” lamented Shahbaz Sharif.
“Shahbaz, this is a plan. He is making things so unattractive that our Bilawal and Hamza will say why bother to become prime minister when you can’t enjoy the perks of office.
“I tell you, it is a conspiracy. Imran is making public service unattractive,” concluded Zardari.