Like a Pickpocket

Former president of Pakistan, member of the National Assembly, and Pakistan People’s Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has called Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chief of his eponymous faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, to thank him for visiting former prime minister Nawaz Sharif at his residence in Jati Umrah to convince him to attend the All Parties Conference (APC), as part of his efforts to unite the opposition.

Zardari is burning though his stack of cartons of cigarettes as he talks, “My dear Maulana, you are the real patriot. The nation will not forget your efforts to bring my brother Nawaz closer to me.

“I don’t know why he is hesitant to join the APC… does he fear more charges will be heaped upon him by NAB [National Accountability Bureau]? Yes, I do understand that the clouds are getting darker. Of all things, when [prime minister] Imran Khan is talking about austerity, he has added this Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability… and this Mirza Shahzad Akbar just visited London and met with their home secretary Sajid Javid, Debbie Price, deputy chief crown prosecutor of the International Justice and Organized Crime Division, and Philomena Creffield, head of the U.K. Central Authority, and British prime minister’s anti-corruption chief, John Penrose.

“I am told he discussed issues related to mutual legal assistance, extradition requests, prisoner transfer agreements and steps to curb money laundering as well as recovery of assets acquired through, what they call, illegal means.

“It seems the British are listening to Imran; the FIA has arrested Aslam Masood [chief financial officer of the Omni Group] through Interpol and is preparing documents to bring him to Pakistan. Aslam is my man [involved in opening fake accounts in various banks in the names of different persons, using copies of their National Identity Cards without their consent and knowledge]… my dear Maulana, does Imran know finance! What he is calling fake accounts are actually trading accounts that you open in the names of [unsuspecting] poor people… we have made penniless billionaires… it is no mean feat!”

The Maulana interjects, “And now Imran has given a new toy to people… his Pakistan Citizen Portal where anyone can register themselves through an app and send their complaints to government departments.”

Zardari blurts out, “My dear Maulana, this whistleblower thing too… this twenty percent reward to anyone who helps recover ill-gotten wealth is another big danger. Now anyone wanting to make money will call and create headaches for us… I never let anyone keep that much for doing things for me.

“I wonder why doesn’t our brother Nawaz sense all these dangers. His friend King Abdullah is no more and Imran has come back from two trips with King Salman and no good news has come about Nawaz.

“Yes, I have nothing anywhere but if they start hitting at the offshore entities in British controlled islands… God have mercy. I already am getting a dozen black goats sacrificed every day!

The Maulana agreeing, adds, “Not just Imran, this chief justice Saqib Nisar had been going on before Imran came.”

Zardari adds, “You saw that while hearing the case about foreign accounts held by Pakistanis he ordered the production of twenty people with properties abroad who had opted for the previous government’s amnesty. He has also ordered Federal Board of Revenue Chairman Jahanzaib Khan, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General Basheer Memon, State Bank of Pakistan Governor Tariq Bajwa and the attorney general to appear before him.”

The Maulana consoling him, offers, “My brother, you have to look within… you toppled the PML-N provincial government in Baluchistan. Then you did not support Shehbaz Sharif for prime minister. Finally, you divided the opposition by nominating Aitzaz Ahsan as candidate for the presidential elections instead of voting for me.

“You thought that such favors will help you in the money laundering case and you were happy that your party is forming the government in Sindh.

“My dear brother Asif, despite all that I tried to bring you and my brother Nawaz close. But you will see the day the money laundering case gets you arrested, your party members will run away and you will lose Sindh… your waderas don’t love losers.

“Both of my dear brothers are squabbling, so I am hitting the road with religion… I am going hit Imran with my religion card.”

Zardari almost to a whisper, “Your decision. But the clouds are darkening. As a signatory to a multilateral convention of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Pakistan is officially accessing information about offshore financial accounts of Pakistanis in the signatory countries.

“But all this is our hard-earned… all of us have served the public… you were head of Kashmir parliamentary committee for fifteen years… Benazir sacrificed her life… Imran has no regard for anyone… she was his contemporary at Oxford… I am Asif Zardari, but Bilawal, Bakhtawar, and Aseefa are her children too.

“Maulana, Imran has no consideration… he auctioned off Nawaz’s favorite buffaloes… so what he cares about Benazir’s children… he is just like a pickpocket.”

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