Shehbaz Sharif, president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), his niece and party vice-president Maryam Nawaz Sharif/Safdar accompanied by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a former prime minister, and party firebrand Rana Sanaullah, are meeting with Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, his aunt Faryal Talpur, who has been spared arrest, accompanied by Gen. (ret.) Farhatullah Babar, Qamaruzzan Kaira, the party’s Punjab chief, at the Zardari House in Islambad.
Also present is the indefatigable political performer, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, head of his eponymous faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i Islam.
The Maulana initiates the conversation, “It is sad day in the history of Pakistan that a great man who has parked hundreds of millions in dollars, Sir, yes dollars, in the accounts of poor laborers and workers, our beloved brother, Asif Zardari, has been arrested.
“Indeed, no one has a bigger heart than him. Just imagine the joy of these poor people who were told that they are billionaires. So it not inappropriate to say that I had my eyes on massive diesel oil permits.
“In fact, we are already mourning the imprisonment of our large-hearted brother, Nawaz Sharif. He was always giving. He always insisted on taking a Boeing 777 when on any overseas trip so there was always space for not just the family but also our honorable media people and of course people of faith like myself.”
Bilawal thanks the Maulana, adding, “May God bless you for your kind words and hopes in my father’s generosity. You will agree and the whole world agrees that despite the inflation, my father has limited his skim-off from any public project to a mere 110%. My father’s kindness knows no limits. You know the three of us, myself and my two sisters, never know but our overseas portfolios keep growing. Like I never knew that Uncle Malik Riaz [of Bahria Town) was giving me a [$50 million Bilawal] house in Lahore. He just winked at my dad and handed me a key.
“Our sister Maryam and our brother Shehbaz deserve all the sympathy when our brother Hamza is also locked up.”
Maulana Fazal quickly interjects, “I am worried too. I have been hearing that it is being said that I am the right person to be imam for my brothers Asif, Nawaz and Hamza. I don’t see it as a compliment. This is just an excuse to lock me up.”
Bilawal tries to pacify the visibly shaken Maulana, “You are a national treasure. I am told that you are the nation’s diesel expert. Just tell them that you are not afraid of going to jail and then file for a pre-arrest bail, and bails thereafter. You know that prior to this arrest, my father filed eleven times for pre-arrest bails, only the last one failed him.”
Maryam doing her best to console the Maulana, adds, “Of course, you can fall ill the moment they shut the jail cell door. See not only my father, but also my Uncle Shehbaz, and our respected leader Mr. Zardari are experts in falling sick in jails.”
The Maulana recoups his strength and hastily blurts, “Yes, that’s true. I can get an illness that is treatable only in south of France.
[He looks around and adds] My bother Abbassi, I am hearing that you too will be praying behind me.”
Shehbaz steers the conversation away from prisons and offers, “We all heard about the commission that Imran Khan is creating to see how the debt burden increased so much. This is dangerous for all of us. This is his tactic to shake us out of our funds that we earned in lieu of our service to the people. Who works for free? Tell me which Rs 100 million project does not cost Rs 10 million… after all, we deserve the balance… the Rs 90 million.”
Faryal Talpur springs to extol her brother, “No, my brother… Asif Zardari would keep Rs 110 million off any Rs 100 million project. This is his genius.”
Shehbaz continues, “Now how to fight this commission that Imran is creating?”
Bilawal offers, “I will tell him, and our liberal media will tell him that we won’t compromise an inch on our stances on the 18th amendment. We will say that the Amendment does not allow for any corruption probes. All of us have to keep shouting that whatever is happening with the opposition is not accountability but political vendetta.”
Shehbaz reconnects, “I will say that our brother, Asif should get himself moved to Kot Lakhpat jail so that two of our country’s greatest leaders are in constant touch. And I would say if our respectable and honorable Maulana is also there. It will be an amazing combination, good enough to upend this commission and all this anti-corruption hysteria!”
The Maulana, staring at Shehbaz, declares, “No sacrifice is too little to uproot Imran’s anti-corruption drive, especially this commission. But my friends, I have hesitation in serving as imam in Kot Lakhpat jail, except if you promise to never forget my diesel permits.”
Shehbaz pats the Maulana’s hand and assures him, “My dear Maulana Sahib, never forget that neither we, the Sharifs, nor our brother Asif, ever forget our friends. Once we regain the hold over Pakistan’s treasury, one of its keys will be yours… yes, and the ministerial residence and perks too!”
An overjoyed Maulana hugs Shehbaz and Bilawal, and requests a round of lassi for everyone.