The former president of Pakistan, Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman and currently a member of the National Assembly Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur, are meeting with their legal defense team, Aitzaz Ahsan, Shahid Hamid, who served as the governor of Punjab, and Farooq H. Naek after the Supreme Court on Sept. 5 decided to constitute a joint investigation team to probe alleged money laundering of at least Rs. 35 billion (about $300 million) through 29 fake accounts in Summit Bank, Sindh Bank and United Bank Limited.
Not just a stack of cartons of cigarettes, but also his other nerve balm, an opened bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label sits before him.
Puffing at cigarette number three since the lawyers entered his office at the Bilawal House in Karachi, he mumbled, “This thing is not different from the way poor Donald Trump is being put through a media trial. The world hates the rich. They moment they see that you know how to make money they come after you.
“This nonsense talk about our Zardari Group … can’t I and Faryal [Talpur] do business together … a siblings venture?
“Now they are going drag in Azra too because they have found she is our partner in Landmark and National Gases (Pvt) Limited. First it was just Faryal and me and now it is Azra too!
“So how do you see this [Chief Justice] Saqib Nisar’s JIT [Joint Investigation Team], which has come on a request from the DG [director general] Federal Investigation Agency Bashir Memon.
“Didn’t Nisar say that in the Nawaz Sharif JIT the spy agencies – the Military Intelligence (MI) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) – were included in the Panama Papers case to ‘spice it up’?
“Shahid, I am not a lawyer, but you erred in offering that the Rs. 35 billion figure was ‘vastly exaggerated’ … I am afraid that the judges may jump on it and say so what is unexaggerated figure… then of course, they will weigh upon that whatever the figure, a crime is a crime.
“But in the JIT for us in this so-called fake money laundering case, besides representatives from the State Bank of Pakistan, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, National Accountability Bureau, and Federal Bureau of Revenue, and he has included ISI and MI too. So what the three of you were doing? Why this JIT? Will we too end up with Nawaz and Maryam? Nisar has asked the JIT to submit its progress report every two weeks. I am sure that the media will pounce upon these reports and there will be no stopping because now we can use our government advertising payouts to the media in Sindh only.
“What were the three of you doing when Nisar was saying that there are no impediments which could stop them to form JIT, and then he added that they are developing a new jurisprudence where an agency lacking expertise can seek assistance from other agencies. This is not good my friends.
“This judge is so unpredictable. Even poor Sharjeel Memon’s room in Ziauddin Hospital was violated! Nisar is crossing the limits … he has sent an ailing person to lockup. God knows what is Nisar going to do next to Anwar Majeed and his sons, and [former Pakistan Stock Exchange chairman] Hussain Lawai.
“You heard his remark that why Majeed and his son Abdul Ghani should not be brought to Islamabad for medical checkup. And now, our trusted Ziauddin Hospital is sort of blacklisted too.
“We need to worry my friends; especially this chief justice thinks that he can raise all the money for his dams using his judicial powers.
“As the Americans use a baseball term, we need to keep all our bases covered. Aitzaz you know that after your defeat, I am the last hope of liberalism in Pakistan. What if the JIT condemns me and Faryal, will Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Aseefa be able to attain their birthright to rule Pakistan? Aitzaz, Shahid, and Farooq should I drop the Zardari name from their names and let the everlasting Bhutto power take them higher and higher? What do you say gentlemen?
“And what do you say that if Nisar gets tougher, should I send my children to intercede with Imran, after all their mother was with him at Oxford?
“But also keeping all bases covered, I am also thinking about Mushahid Hussain Syed… No one can ever forget how bravely he took care of Justice Sajjad Ali Shah … was it 1998, if I am correct. I wonder even when Mushahid had crossed over to Nawaz, he did not utilize his services again, and let the Supreme Court lock him up.
“I know Mushahid is a liberal. I am not saying that I don’t have competent lawyers, but even though, Mushahid can’t change parties so early in his Senate term, but we can surely come to an arrangement with him to utilize his expertise whenever needed… like … I would say let us hire Senator Mushahid too.”