Hairan Harkati of K2 News is meeting with PPP-Parliamentarians president Asif Ali Zardari at his Zardari House in Islamabad.
Even before, a question could be put to him, Zardari complains, “The media is biased against us. All you show is malnourished children in Tharparkar. The media has utterly failed to cover the positives.
“I needn’t repeat that Karachi is the country’s commercial capital. So if the FIA [Federal Investigation Authority] notices bank accounts in the names of some milkman or a vegetable seller, both the FIA and media get hysteric that it must be laundered money.
“For God sake, don’t people park things, like bikes, cars, indeed park themselves… like Maulana Fazlur Rahman parked himself in a ministerial residence for fifteen years without ever being a minister. So what is the big deal in parking money. Or, is there a perpetual ‘No Parking’ sign for money?
“Our immortal leader in perpetuity Zulfikar Ali Bhutto promised roti kapra aur makan [food, clothing and housing]. Now under the leadership of his grandchildren, Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Aseefa, working under my guidance, our party has added saynkro krore [billions] to this timeless slogan.”
Hairan, managing to get a word between, asks, “But whenever an FIA investigator has questioned any of these accountholders, they have expressed utter surprise.” Zardari responds, “So, this too is my fault? Why they don’t question the banks? Isn’t it their fault that they did not educate these people about parking… yes, they have never owned a car, or even a motorcycle… and may be not even own a bicycle, but they too deserve basic education like parking [of funds].”
Hairan, offers another question, “What is your feeling about the [Supreme Court constituted Joint Investigation Team] JIT?”
Zardari takes a few quick puffs on his cigarette and declares, “JIT… No. It will not get anywhere. We own Sindh. Even if they come up with something or the other, I can defend myself: ‘Yes I have deposited money in this account, it is my wish.’”
JIT has been set after FIA has been investigating 32 people in relation to money laundering from fictitious bank accounts, including Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur. Additionally, FIA has uncovered 30 more fictitious accounts under the names of domestic workers who make Rs.12,000-15,000 monthly, yet transactions of Rs. 10 billion rupees are made under their accounts. FIA has learned that an influential businessman of Sindh hired them to open their accounts conducted by him.
Hairan trying to keep up, asks, “Now this Imran Khan government is really pushing to end corruption…”
Zardari interrupts him and continues, “I don’t know how Imran defines and explains corruption. Wasn’t he with Benazir at Oxford? She never considered what we, both Benazir and I, were doing as corruption or whatever.
“Hasn’t he gone too far and said too much? We have told him to behave like an executive. We did what he never expected. Didn’t we shock Nawaz [Sharif] into disbelief by offering to work with Imran’s government?”
“What am I saying about Imran being thankless? This [model] Ayyan Ali… we made her famous… Bilawal purchased her tickets from his account… my lawyer… our governor of Punjab, Sardar Latif Khan Khosa represented her… how she is going around badmouthing us on Twitter. She is badmouthing our [former interior minister] Rehman Malik’s brother, Khalid Malik… my former personal assistant Mushtaq Ahmed. Why all this? She was just asked to carry half-a-million dollars in her carryon every time she went to Dubai! This happens when small people are given importance… coming from some small place… probably Gujjar Khan around Rawalpindi.”
Hairan raises the issue that in his recent speech, prime minister Imran Khan referred to the [pardon vehicle then president Gen. Musharraf gave to Benazir Bhutto and Zardari] National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) where he had vowed no corrupt person will get an NRO.
Zardari puffing on the 15th cigarette, declares, “My dear Hairan Hairkati, we all know that Imran Khan is a neophyte in politics. No one has ever proved that anything belongs to me. All the fuss that [then chief justice] Iftikhar Chaudhury made about the NRO… did Pakistan get even a half-a-cent from my Swiss accounts!
“This so-called fake accounts case in 2015… this Ayyan case is 2015.
“Imran Khan] has a habit of saying things. I care nothing about these JITs. [Chief Justice of Pakistan] Saqib Nisar set up a JIT for Nawaz Sharif in the Panama case. Did Pakistan government even get a penny out of Nawaz?
“Imran can say anything about me or Nawaz or any of our people, but he will have to prove that we did this or that. First my people will never desert me. Did [prime minister Yusuf Raza] Gilani desert me to save his seat? Did Dr. Athar Hussain desert me? Let then pressure this girl Ayyan to become an approver, but an approver for what? Is there any connection to me… any proof?”
“Proving is something else! I did not build this portfolio on nothing.
“I believe in the [President] Trump principle that I always want to tell the truth. When I can, I tell the truth. Remember, I am Asif Zardari. When I can, I tell the truth.”