Maulana Fazalur Rehman, chief of his eponymous faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, has called upon Asif Zardari, a former president of Pakistan, and co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party.
As usual, Zardari is sitting in front of a few ashtrays piled high with cigarette butts. Out of his deference to his visitor, he has ordered his Chivas Regal to be brought in a porcelain mug emblazoned with the Hyatt Regency The Churchill name, the hotel he owns in London. For the visitor he has ordered a tall glass of lassi.
The Maulana, however, has no appetite for the offering and launches into his discussion, “My dear brother, you see what is happening… you see where the country is heading to. You don’t feel the pain too much. You have Sindh and your money is still coming in, even though trifle by your and even my standards, but just look at me. It is the seventh month without any diesel permits… the seventh month without a roof on my head.
“Imran Khan is the center of all our sorrows… all our troubles. He has let the NAB [National accountability Bureau] do whatever it pleases, and surely NAB is bent upon on harassment and this reign of fear.”
Zardari tries to pacify the pained visitor, “Maulana just have patience.”
The Maulana blurts, “You know, due to this harassment and fear, no bureaucrat is even ready to welcome you in their office… don’t even think of asking them to sign anything… the business of the country is stopped.”
Zardari, takes a sip and a deep puff, adds, “Maulana do you think that I wake up or sleep comfortably? Yes, God be praised, the 18th Amendment that I signed is working, but Sind alone doesn’t provide me the avenues I am used to.
“Corruption is our way life. I know that Imran Khan disagrees, but see the country is facing economically and there is a social crisis but Imran Khan sees no need to boost the economy and improve social conditions. You can’t do things without the people getting their shares.”
The Maulana, still unable to lift his glass, moans, “Probably, I have to learn to live a life without diesel permits.
“My dear brother Asif [Zardari], all of us need to be thankful for what we have. You have Sind firmly under your control. See what happened to our brother Nawaz [Sharif, former three times prime minister]. The Islamabad high court rejected his bail plea requested on health grounds…”
Zardari quickly adds, “This is cruel. That poor man has heart conditions. Maulana, we should also acknowledge that our brother Nawaz lacks the art of hospital stays. You know how I stayed in jail for 11 years… in hospitals. No one matches the force of Zardari.”
The Maulana barely able to talk, murmurs, “My dear brother, I am worried for everyone… yes, indeed, I live for diesel permits, but see how callously, our brother Nawaz’s bail application was turned down. I fear for all of us.
“My brother Asif, did you read the judgment? The first thing the court said that his condition couldn’t be regarded as an extraordinary situation or a case of extreme hardship. Such an attitude is worth fearing. On top of that the court said that he is already receiving the best possible medical treatment available to any Pakistani.
“Do you note the words, ‘any Pakistani’? What sort of thinking is that? What is happening that we, the ones who serve the public are being bundled under ‘any Pakistani’?
“My dear brother Asif, to make things worse, the prison sentence also comes with a fine of Rupees 1.5 billion plus $25 million.
“The poor man is being robbed too. And to make things worse, your Khurshid Shah says that he can come to Sind for medical treatment because the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases is fully equipped with the latest technology and specialist doctors to treat him.”
Zardari quickly takes a few quick puffs and offers, “Yes, my brother, I agree. I will ask Khurshid to present himself before me. He should not have said this. Even the best in Pakistan is not up to our standards. Khurshid needs to be reminded that our lives lie where our wealth lies. Overseas.”