Hitch Our Wagons Together

The three times former prime minister of Pakistan and perpetual chief of his eponymous faction of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Mian Nawaz Sharif has reentered the political arena consequent to the bail granted to him, his daughter and his son-in-law by the Islamabad High Court in the Avenfield Apartments reference.

Also, the court has allowed him to canvass for by-elections. He hopes to gain the sympathy vote in the wake of his wife, Kulsoom’s death.

He has agreed to the suggestion of former president Asif Zardari, co-chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party and a sitting member of the National Assembly, and his holding this intra-family meeting of the Zardaris and Sharifs to review the political situation and to chart the future course of action.

Present at Jati Umra in Raiwind, near Lahore, are Zardari, his children Bilawal, Bakhtawar, and Aseefa, and sisters Faryal Talpur and Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho — currently provincial minister for health, and population welfare, both members of the Sindh Assembly.

The Zardari family has the perpetual sympathy weapon of the dead leaders, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto.

Besides Nawaz Sharif, the Sharifs include Shahbaz Sharif, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, and former chief minister of Punjab, Maryam Nawaz Safdar, Hamza Shahbaz, leader of the opposition in the Punjab Assembly, and Maryam’s son Junaid Safdar.

The meeting is considering the current developments and their own situation.

Zardari and Faryal are facing a probe by the Supreme Court appointed Joint Investigation Team for the Rs. 35 billion fake accounts case. Also, the court has asked Zardari to submit and his family’s assets list dating the last 10-years.

Nawaz Sharif is facing Al Azizia reference in the Accountability Court.

Nawaz initiates the discussion, “My dears, we are here because all of us accept that the country is not heading the way that we led it for decades.

“This Imran Khan is behaving like a child with a new toy. We know that he has grabbed our birthright, this office, through his nonstop anti-corruption tirades.”

Bilawal is quick to interrupt, “Uncle Nawaz, he has not grabbed it, he has been selected by the establishment to cor… err … I mean to mold Pakistan is their own direction.”

Nawaz responds, “Yes, you are right young man. Look at the way he is tearing down our privileges. He even auctioned off my beloved buffaloes.

“We had the long-standing tradition that chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in the National Assembly was the opposition leader. It was such a smooth arrangement. There never was any accounting of public accounts.

“Now that Shahbaz is the leader, Imran is refusing him the post, and he let [information minister] Fawad Chaudhry declare that the opposition had no right to hold this post because the PTI government would not allow Shahbaz to audit projects rolled out during our reign.”

Maryam quickly supports her father, “This Imran gang has no respect for the vote. Uncle Shahbaz got this post because he had the votes! So Imran has to continue our tradition.”

Zardari adds his wisdom, “Maryam, there is more to it. They are not just aiming at things done under your reign but they will also go deeper into projects done during my reign. This ten-year court thing is deeper than it seems.

“The upcoming by-elections are just a small matter. Instead, we need to aim much higher. We need to create a formidable front against attempts at uprooting our legacy where public service has its rewards.

“My dear brother Nawaz, if you had supported our Aitzaz Ahsan for presidency, we could gotten rid of Imran long ago.”

Nawaz, picking up his second glass of lassi, declares, “No, my brother Asif, my choice of Maulana Fazlur Rehman was the right one. What are you saying, uproot Imran, our president would have destroyed him forever! He has been missing his diesel permits.”

Bilawal joins, “Let bygones be bygones. Let us decide a name for our combined party.”

Maryam quickly offers, “Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Peoples Party United Front.”

Bakhtawar has her view, “Auntie Maryam, it would be too long. I suggest it should be Bhutto-Zardari-Sharifs Front.”

Shahbaz finally joins the conversation, “Our party has more seats. It should be Nawaz Sharif Bhutto Zardari League.”

Aseefa offers her choice, “Our Perpetual Right to Rule United Front, and it will be called OPRRUF.”

Zardari hurriedly endorses his younger daughter’s suggestion, “I would say that it is not only very powerful but also sends a clear message that we alone have the right to rule.

“I propose Bilawal as chairman of our OPRRUF… he speaks very good English. You remember how he hit Imran with this selected prime minister bit.”

Nawaz Sharif hurriedly adds, “Excuse me, we have more seats. The chairman should be ours. My Junaid is also educated in England, and not only speaks good English but also pays polo, which means he is close to the top people in the country.”

Zardari, not be outdone, stresses, “But Bilawal has the greater right to rule, because he has two great martyrs as his ancestors, our ever living leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and our queen of martyrs, Benazir.”

Finally Junaid comes up with his view, “We all agree that we alone have the genes to rule. Instead of arguing, we should do a toss to select our chairman because times like these demand, as the Americans would say, that we are hitch our wagons together.”

His grandfather, Nawaz raises his glass of lassi in approval.

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