Shehbaz Sharif, president of his brother Nawaz’s faction of the Pakistan Muslim League, who has ascended the chair of the 15th Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in his capacity of being the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, came to chair the first PAC meeting from jail.
Shehbaz Sharif, who is also is also facing corruption charges leveled by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), had summoned NAB to explain a delay in finalizing investigations in dozens of cases that the last two PACs had referred to the anti-corruption watchdog for an action.
Asif Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), who is under investigation for money laundering and fake accounts, visited Shehbaz immediately after being placed on the exit control list, offers, “I don’t know if they are giving you your own food in this camp jail or not. But I will ask Hina [Rabbani Khar]… yes, she is on your committee, to get food delivered from her Polo Lounge. It is a superb eatery.
“I plan to visit our brother Nawaz [Sharif] in Lahore. Can’t he be shifted here to be with you in this camp jail?”
Shehbaz Sharif responds, “My dear brother thank you for your concern. Indeed Hina is with us. In fact, all your party members on my committee are with me.”
Zardari adds, “Shehbaz, you are just like my younger brother, if you want you can discuss with Nawaz but I strongly believe that the Charter of Democracy (CoD) that he and my wife [Benazir Bhutto] signed has grounds to be extended in its scope. I would like to have it repurposed as our Charter of Democracy and Corruption.”
Shehbaz continues, “I really like your suggestion but as a matter of courtesy, I will ask my older brother, and also he is the president of our party in perpetuity.”
Zardari continues, “I wish instead of sticking to the CoD, we should have followed its interpretation more carefully and upgraded it. Indeed both Benazir and Nawaz believed in the orientation that we have done. Shehbaz, I needn’t ask but you too agree that democracy cannot flourish without corruption.
“Shehbaz, I will definitely talk to Hina about getting food for you. I was leading up to the question that while you have agreed not to review the cases that pertain to the period when Nawaz was prime minister to avoid conflict of interest, but I don’t see if there are any bars to our… I mean my cases. You know how Imran Khan marred Benazir’s 11th death anniversary by putting my child, Bilawal, my sister [Faryal Talpur], and me on the exit control list. I mean just imagine the cruelty; Bilawal and his sisters had planned to do New Year’s Eve in London! In fact, I had suggested that they go to New York… you know there too they have their own residence.
“Besides Hina, you have our Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Syed Hussain Tariq, Syed Naveed Qamar, and Sherry Rehman… they can lend the support you need in keeping a lid on anything related to me and my family. Lest I overlook, you have Mushahid Hussain Syed, the man of aggression. And once again, Hina can keep those delicious meals coming.”
Shehbaz continues, “Indeed my brother, it is my duty to work by our Charter [of Democracy and Corruption]. I have no doubt that our PPP friends will be at our beck and call.
“My brother, Asif, how can I overlook the fact that your people fought so hard to get my right of this chair.
“You know, we worked closely together. I squeezed the maximum to agree that I would not chair any meeting of the committee dealing with any matter pertaining to PML-N’s tenure. But I know that your party people who are in this committee will stand by my party and me.
“I would say that we appoint our [former foreign minister] Khawaja Muhammad Asif and your Senator Sherry Rehman to coordinate efforts in guarding our interests in the committee when I am not present.
“Already a case has been filed in Lahore high court for my removal, arguing that as committee head, I could summon NAB and other institutions and pressure them.”
Zardari offers, “My brother Shehbaz, it is a matter beyond food from Hina’s Polo Lounge, it is a matter of our future generations. We cannot let Imran Khan audit us. We have to stand together.”
Shehbaz offers, “No my brother, don’t bother about the food. We have to stand together. You know [railways minister] Sheikh Rashid is going to court to see that I don’t enjoy official protocol while appearing before NAB investigators…”
Zardari quickly adds, “Indeed this Sheikh Rashid is a horror. Every time he opens his mouth, my children get so upset. You know, I have to keep a good supply of Xanax at hand to help them when anxiety strikes them… especially my [daughter] Bakhtawar goes after Xanax like it is peanuts.”
Shehbaz, now visibly angered, continues, “My brother, may God protect us and our children, really Imran Khan is proving to be a much bigger headache that I envisaged. This so-called “public” as in public interest in the committee’s name was never allowed to disturb our way of doing things. This PAC always used to be our private accounts committee. I ask who changed the name of our private accounts committee?”