The news that an agreement signed with Switzerland for tracking the bank accounts of Pakistanis, would enable the government to take data from Switzerland, and information would start arriving within four to six weeks, has caused a stir in Bilawal House, Karachi.
The former president and co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party, Asif Ali Zardari along with his close confidant and lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan has arrived in Jati Umra, the Sharifs residential compound.
In keeping with his style, Nawaz Sharif, signals and three tall glasses of lassi arrive. The former president, too busy with his cigarette, overlooks the drink, and starts the conversation, “My dear brother Nawaz this Swiss agreement doesn’t look good news to me…”
Nawaz Sharif quickly adds, “I did not put anything in Switzerland, but any way, things are not going right. You must have heard about the latest that this Imran Khan government has asked NAB [National Accountability Bureau] to investigate the 25 private trips that I did as prime minister. They allege that these cost the national exchequer about Rs. 250 million…”
Zardari exclaims, “Really! This is very mean. They think that it is a big amount! Nothing.”
Nawaz Sharif continues, “First, my brother Asif, what are these special jets for… standing and enjoying the sun! They are saying that I was taking twenty-five to thirty people with me on each trip. So! The plane is flying with one person or ten or thirty, it is using the same fuel.”
Zardari offers, “No, my dear brother Nawaz, these are all excuses to trouble us. You heard Imran Khan thanking [chief justice] Saqib Nasir for his Panama Papers judgment.
“I mean, don’t this chief justice and Imran know that foreign currency feels more at home and relaxed in its own environment. Where would Swiss francs feel comfortable, of course in Swiss banks?
“My dear brother, they are already trying to hit you for real estate portfolio your sons built in U.K., and see they are trying to hit me with these various Bahria Towns land cases. I don’t know if you have been to Malir. It was a wasteland… who would grow crops so close to any majestic city. And what a great builder Malik Riaz is… each of his Bahria developments is state of art. Like take the example of Malir, you wouldn’t like all those shacks and ramshackle houses near Karachi. Instead of lauding our government for beautifying Sindh, they slap an investigation.”
Nawaz Sharif continues, “I mean they are insulting us every way. They are saying that it is a surprise that wealthy person like me could not perform Umrah from my own pocket. OK. But I took so many others. Of course, they are Pakistanis!”
Zardari, takes a deep puff, and adds, “My dear brother, Imran Khan is trying to corner us like he is in a cricket match… hitting us with all sorts of pitches, bouncers, off-cutters, leg-spin, and on and on. Thank God my people are not ditching me despite the pain they are going through. And thank God, my Aitzaz is representing Malik Riaz so he too won’t ditch me.”
Nawaz Sharif murmurs, “Centuries old cases are being brought up. They are asking under which law I allowed construction of stores on the Auqaf department’s land… construction of shops on the land of Pakpattan’s shrine, which was in 1985 you know… even this four year old case, Saqib Nasir has constituted a larger bench for the formation of a new JIT [Joint Investigation Team] for the Model Town case. God have mercy!
“Even, the Chaudhuries [of Gujrat] who are Imran’s coalition partners are not being spared. [Punjab assembly speaker] Pervez Ihahi is also being dragged in 13-year old case related to Bahria Town in Takht Pari, Rawalpindi that Malik Riaz exchanged some property with Pervez’s family members.”
Zardari adds, “My dear brother my worry is this government’s access to Swiss accounts. Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, and Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh who heard the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) implementation case in 2012, are still there on the bench. They had ordered and approved the fresh draft of the letter that the government had to send to Swiss authorities to reopen corruption cases against me. Then, I had gotten it blocked… an unmatchable sacrifice by prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani who got convicted for contempt of court for declining to comply with the court’s directive, and was disqualified as prime minister as well as parliament member. But now I don’t have people there. Schlegelmich of the customs contractor Cotecna Inspection spilled the beans under interrogation.”
“My dear brother, at this rate, this Saqib Nasir may make a JIT against you for the killing of my sister Benazir.”
Zardari offers, “Thank you for your concern, but I have that covered. I have her will giving the exact manner and time she would die. Nothing can sink my ship.”