Nawaz Sharif, the three times former prime minister of Pakistan and disbarred president of his eponymous faction of the Pakistan Muslim League, who is currently undergoing a prison sentence in Kot Lakhpat jail in suburban Lahore, for corruption, is deeply upset over not having access to his favorite foods.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan has rejected his bail and parole petitions, rejecting his health-based arguments. Not only that but also the prison authorities have finally enforced rules and are not allowing food for him from his home, but have also restricted visits to only from his immediate family and not his party leaders.
Besides the extended Sharif family, many of his party leaders are facing other corruption charges. Thus the need of the hour is to get Nawaz Sharif out of jail and mount a campaign to oust the sitting government led by prime minister Imran Khan, which is pursuing a strict anti-corruption regime.
A meeting of party leaders comprising his daughter, Maryam (“don’t call me Safdar”) Nawaz Sharif, his brother and former two-times Punjab chief minster, Shehbaz Sharif, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a former prime minister, and former minister Ahsan Iqbal, and former informer information minister Maryam Aurangzeb have devised a strategy that his daughter Maryam, besides threatening to go on indefinite hunger strike, should also smuggle her cellphone and have the jailed leader call Michelle Bachelet Jeria, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to intercede on his behalf over his food issue.
His daughter, working with party leaders, have prepared mini cue cards from which Nawaz Sharif will read to the UN official in Geneva.
The cards have been arranged in order. But first he will start with a general narrative that he has had coronary angioplasty twice in 2001 and 2017 and also had open heart surgery twice in 2011 and 2016.
The first card will have him talk about the deterioration of his renal function.
The second card will have him discussing that the left ventricle, the main pumping chamber of the heart, is damaged on the lower left wall.
The third will have him telling that he is a known case of diabetes Mellitus.
The fourth will talk about him having hypertension for the last 10 years.
The fifth card will have him telling her that he is also a known case of Ischemic heart disease since 2001.
Nawaz Sharif has also been briefed that Ms. Jeria has served as President of Chile from 2006 to 2010 and again from 2014 to 2018, the first woman to occupy the position.
After much discussion it was decided that in order to maximize the sympathy appeal, Nawaz Sharif should call Ms. Jeria at 11 a.m. Geneva time, which will be before lunch there, and 2 p.m. in Lahore, after the convict has had his jail-served lunch.
Accordingly, his daughter sought permission to meet with her father on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. for at least two hours, which would be Monday morning in Geneva.
Finally, the moment comes. Maryam is able to spirit in her cellphone undetected, having lined the inner of her bag with an x-ray proof material.
She calls and asks Ms. Jeria’s secretary that the Prime Minister is calling from Pakistan.
The High Commissioner comes on line, and Nawaz Sharif starts the conversation, “Honorable High Commissioner, indeed it is very chivalrous of you to accept to become high commissioner when you have been president of Chile twice. Of course Geneva is anytime more beautiful than Santiago, just like it is more beautiful than Kot Lakhpat, which I am presently calling you from.”
The High Commissioner interrupts, “But isn’t Mr. Imran Khan, the prime minister? And who are you Sir?”
Nawaz quickly adds, “Honorable Madam, I am the three times prime minister of Pakistan, Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, who is at present a resident of Kot Lakhpat. In fact, chili [pepper] is very popular in my country. We put chili in every food that we cook. Indeed, I am all the time missing food with the right amount of chili that my beautiful and talented daughter, Maryam, was bringing for me from our beautiful mansion in Jati Umra… [prompted by his daughter to read from his notes] you know, it is 11 a.m. in Geneva and you would be looking forward to a delicious meal of your choice. But it is 2 p.m. in Kot Lakhpat, when I have had to go through the torture of eating a medically supervised meal.
“You can understand my pain. You have only been president of chili two times but I have been prime minister of Pakistan three times. But despite that I have had coronary angioplasty only twice in 2001 and 2017 and also had open-heart surgery only twice in 2011 and 2016. Yes three prime minister but only two times each such procedures. This is why they are only allowing me to eat doctor-supervised food.
“Most Honorable Madam, you can understand how soft my heart has become, and imagine the pain it has to bear when I am not allowed food of my choice.
“Indeed, only my daughter Maryam understands my pain and she has announced to go on hunger strike till she is allowed to bring food for me. Yes, you may have been president of chili two times, but you cannot fathom the joys of Pakistani cooking and we put chili in all our foods, except of course in lassi and the sweet foods like halva, gulab jaman, russ malai, motee-choor laddu… oh, I can keep counting!
“My Maryam was bringing me halva, chikkar cholay and puree and sheer-maal, with lassi for breakfast. For lunch and dinner, she was bringing from a choice of amazing dishes such as nihari, siri paya, kut-kut, either chicken or goat biryani… all of them with proper amount of chili… all of Pakistani people thank your country of Chile for inventing this chili.
“Your Honor, I have more cards to read but I don’t want to delay your lunch. I know that you are a very brave lady. You recently issued a report about human rights abuses by India in Kashmir. I am therefore asking you to use your good office to oblige the government of Pakistan to allow food for me from my home.
“What can I say, but that I am confident that you will surely act on my behalf. Only the two times president of Chile can help the three times prime minister of Pakistan get food with chili.
“Thank you [and rings off].”