The three times former prime minister and perpetual president of his eponymous faction of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), Mian Nawaz Sharif is on the line with the former president of Pakistan and co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Asif Zardari.
Nawaz Sharif starts, “My dear brother Asif, I want to thank you from the very bottom of my heart for obliging Imran Khan to accept my little bother [former Punjab chief minister and PML-N president] Shahbaz Sharif as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.”
Zardari replies, “My dear Nawaz, you didn’t need to call and thank me for such little favors. I will call it self-preservation.
“The other thing is, and I believe that you can help here too. You know Shahbaz is in NAB custody… our Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother Salman are in because of in the Paragon housing society. The conditions at the NAB detention center are deplorable!”
Zardari interrupts, “My dear brother, Nawaz, this Imran Khan is using NAB like a weapon to scare us. He has a long term plan… by going after people like us, the real experts in politics, he wants to clear the field so that there is no one left to tell him what is politics.”
Nawaz replies, “Yes, my brother Asif, you analyzed the situation perfectly. Indeed, this is why everyone says ek Zardari, sub pur bhari [Zardari is all-conquering]. You know, now I have stopped watching the news, it is so depressing. I only watch…”
Zardari asks, “You mean just cricket?”
Nawaz responds, “No… not all. You know I was a great batsman, but now when I watch any game, the menacing face of Imran Khan seems to be staring at me, waiting to smash my head with a bouncer. I am only watching Mickey Mouse.
“But my daughter Maryam was watching the news and she told me that one lawyer for Donald Trump who has made some thirty or forty million dollars, has been given three years in prison… not only that, he is being sent to a jail which is like a five-star hotel. This is the greatness of America. I made much more than that but I got no respect. I was locked up in Adiala prison. They should see the person’s worth before assigning a jail. You have been to my house [in Jati Umra]. I deserved at least eight star accommodations.
“Any way, my reason for the call is that just as you helped Shahbaz with the committee, you should join us in demanding that NAB should follow the example of the Saudi prince Mohammad Bin Salman when accommodating prisoners. Yes, we don’t have a Ritz-Carlton in Pakistan, but there is Pearl InterContinental… there is Avari… there is The Moor in Gulberg. The NAB lockup is sadistic… horrible… it was designed for poor people. You can imagine the conditions.”
Zardari puts in his word again, “In fact, I own the Churchill in London… you have stayed there. If they don’t have proper accommodation for us here, they should send us to the Churchill… in fact, now that Imran Khan is now a good friend with this prince, he can send his prisoners to the Ritz-Carlton there.
“My dear Nawaz, you know that now this NAB is not only after me but also my child, Bilawal.”
Nawaz interrupts, “Yes, Asif this is absolutely shameful… and what to say that Imran Khan has this woman, Dr. Shirin Mazari as minister of human rights. At the moment, only my Maryam’s son is untouched but you know Maryam was also in jail… both my sons, Hasan and Husain… they are trying to bring them here… Hamza… luckily my younger nephew Salman got out in time to London.”
Zardari offers, “My dear Nawaz, yes this NAB is after me but they don’t know that I keep a few medical certificates handy. God forbid, if they get me, they will have to take me to a hospital. But I am worried about my child. Bilawal has even never been in a small mansion… he has tasted only one water, which is Perrier from France.
“You know that NAB is harassing him by summoning him. Yes, my lawyers are shielding him well but then they keep asking him to fill out those questionnaires. It is an insult to the great martyrs… his mother, Benazir and his grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.”
Nawaz adds, “My dear brother Asif, this JIT (Joint Investigation Team) thing is dangerous. This is how they got me and Maryam and Safdar.
“Really NAB is running aqubat khanas… I think in English you call them torture cells in the name of investigating corruption cases. To add to this insult, they even gave tour of the center to a group of journalists… you know the food they are being given! Even my servants don’t get that sort of food!
“They are scaring them that if they don’t stop complaining, they will move them to Attock jail.”
Zardari continues, “My dear Nawaz, this Imran Khan does not know the ABC of governance and for him everything is corruption. It is simply part of doing politics… part of doing governance. Did you hear that now NAB has set its sights on my provincial ministers Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Sharjeel Memon and Abdul Karim Soomro for accumulation of assets beyond known sources of income.”
Nawaz adds, “I pray for the safety of all. You know Imran Khan has support from the judges and generals so we should expect anything but we need to work together to get better conditions… if not here, as I said, he could send us to Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. We have to force Imran Khan’s hand because when I think of this NAB center, I think about Guantanamo.
“If Imran Khan does not want to send people to Ritz-Carlton, he should request for donations from here and abroad to build a jail for high class people.”
Zardari offers, “My dear Nawaz we should merge our parties and work together to fix the problems with this NAB center. God protect us all. I can understand your pain, I bet Guantanamo is better.”