The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly of Pakistan and chairman of its public accounts committee (PAC), Shahbaz Sharif and his niece, Maryam Nawaz Sharif Safdar, have summoned their favorite TV anchor Saleem Safi who airs Jirga with Saleem Safi on GEO TV, at their palatial Jati Umra estate near Lahore.
Sharif starts his talk, “Saleem, you are among the few Pakistani media people who know the real value of great leaders like myself, my brother, the three times prime minister of Pakistan, Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, and our brother Asif Zardari. We are the people who know how to run the government.
“You can see… I mean even a blind man can see what mess Imran Khan has created in these six months due to all his anti-corruption mania. I say please God this nightmare should end.
“You know how the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) locked me. They are not even sparing children. They are pursuing my sons. They are harassing our brother Asif Zardari. Even his innocent son, Bilawal is not spared.
“Yes, I accept and my brother Asif [Zardari] also accepts that we, the PPP [Pakistan Peoples Party] and our PML-N [Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz] jointly appointed retired Justice Javed Iqbal as the NAB chairman, so see what he has done so far. NAB put up weak cases against us. I am now on bail. Soon my brother [Nawaz] will be free. My Maryam is free… our [Maryam’s husband] Safdar is free.
“Saleem, what I called you for today is the suffering of our dearest [former railways minister Saad [Rafique] and his brother at the hands of NAB.
“These brothers, yes these brothers who love my great brother, our perpetual leader Nawaz Sharif have been put up in a 100 year jail where the constantly peeling paint is another tool of harassment for them.
“Saleem, you must have also heard that they were brought to court in a 60 year old vehicle, which caused them so much discomfort that their legs started aching. It is an insult… such degradation is an insult to the great leaders of our country.”
Maryam offers, “You know my father is being treated in jail like one of those prisoners who are locked up for stealing two naan [bread]. He was given a room with a TV set only to [the government-run] PTV. His inability to see his beloved anchors like you has caused him much pain. I am afraid for his heart.
“Saleem, does humanity requires that a person who has lost his beloved wife should be treated as such?”
Shahbaz takes over again, “Now Imran Khan is receiving the Saudi prince [Mohammad Bin Salman] and telling the people that the kingdom will invest $14 billion in Pakistan. And of course, they gave Pakistan $6 billion before too.”
Maryam interrupts again, “But Saleem, all this was done by my father. Imran Khan cannot take credit for anything. Not even the 1992 World Cup because he had retired from cricket, and my father asked his beloved president, General Ziaul Haq to persuade Imran to lead the Pakistan team. I have given you the facts and I know you are among those who are loyal to our family, even though when we are not able to present you cash-filled envelopes.”
Shahbaz adds, “Maryam… Saleem., don’t worry, I will raise this issue in my PAC that why jails were not upgraded… haven’t six month passed and no jail or prison vehicle has been upgraded.
“I mean for more than 22 years, Imran Khan has been talking about justice and going after corruption, so didn’t he know that pursuing the corrupt will require jails.”
Maryam drops in her word, “You will agree with Uncle Asif that Imran Khan lacks deliverance capacity.”
Shahbaz continues, “See Saleem, my Maryam put it so succinctly. You see that to no end, Imran Khan and his people are praising MBS that how he tackled corruption and recovered more than $100 billion from powerful people. But did he lock them up in dilapidated prisons? Did he transport them in rickety aging vehicles?
“No. He locked them up in the five-star Ritz-Carlton, where they were put up in luxurious suites. They were ridden in Mercedes-Maybachs, not 60-year armed personal carriers! And you know, Imran has auctioned all the luxury cars that my brother and Asif had acquired for the president’s and prime minister’s houses. This senseless man, even auctioned off my brother’s beloved buffaloes… Saleem, you too have enjoyed the fantastic lassi made from their milk.
“I don’t know how such hard-hearted person could build not one but two cancer hospitals for the needy.
“I have heard that Imran is upset that NAB did not put up a strong case against me and the high court released me. But the cases are still pending against us… against the Zardari family, and so many fine people who always paid us our due. So if Imran says that he will not relent, he should think about providing better jails and better transport.
“Yes, I am going to move it in the PAC that a priori the funds received from Saudi Arabia should be used for building five-star plus jails in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. Does Imran expect to imprison Asif Zardari, who owns palaces in France and flats in Manhattan in a dilapidated jail? Is it fair? Is it sensible? Doesn’t he now that he has a minister of human rights?
“This is why I will get it voted that similar luxurious jails should be built in hill stations like Murree too. I will also get it voted that Mercedes-Maybachs should be provided at all jails. We can’t be driven around like poor naan thieves!
“Our families… the Sharif family and Zardari family have majority in the Senate, we will get our way with the $14 billion that MBS has given. All this belongs to those who dedicate themselves to public service. Things need to be corrected because Imran Khan has his priorities wrong.”