Really, Can Anyone Count on Asif Zardari?

The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, the former chief minister of Punjab and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif and

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chief of his eponymous faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, and chairman of the Muttahida Majlis-e Amal (MMA) are meeting at the former’s residence in Islamabad’s Parliament Lodges to chart out their opposition strategy.

The Maulana is quick to ask, “Why have neglected to ask Asif Zardari join this meeting? Isn’t his PPP [Pakistan Peoples Party] part of our opposition alliance?”

A visibly angry Shahbaz quickly dismisses the suggestion saying, “Why are you asking this … I mean what to say … this question? Even if you are not a member of any of the national or provincial assemblies but you know what he has done to me and for that matter to you? In the prime ministerial election, he stabbed me in the back. In fact, he lay in comfort at home and just sent his boy to the assembly… Bilawal that day.

“My dear Maulana, it is surprising that you have forgotten what he did to you in the presidential election, otherwise you should have been sitting in that house on Constitution Avenue! He was pressurizing me to prefer his chosen yes-man Aitzaz Ahsan over you … I am surprised that you even mentioned his name.

“I am sure that you know that the Supreme Court has set up a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to examine his and his sister Faryal Talpur’s role in that Rs. 35 billion money laundering … fake counts case. You know where is my dear older brother, my leader, Mian Nawaz Sharif due to the JIT.”

The Maulana offered, “Yes … yes … indeed I know this Imran Khan is dangerous. Look he is so confident that he has trashed not just your but also the prime minister’s laptop distribution programs that you thought would win over the students. He knows that they took laptops from you and voted for him. Imran Khan is dangerous! You know it was an open secret that the students were selling these laptops.

“Shahbaz, I heard that you made a lot of money from the laptop program. You were giving more than 100,000 laptop every year … with all those markups, it must be a lot of dough my brother! Like I had heard way back three years ago, that you had set the procurement price at  $414 each, when these could be bought for even $70 wholesale. I heard that in America, one could these for $179 retail with all the warranties and all at Wal-Mart. Were you making more on laptops than I was getting from selling those diesel import permits?

“I wonder how much our Shahid Khaqan Abbasi made from the cars he ordered before leaving office … those six Mercedes Maybachs and three BMW 760S … I guess it must be a small transaction, like two million dollars or so … oh, not a big fee item at all.

“You remember, how I supported your party’s anti-Imran campaign when he entered the political arena. We kept up the noise that his then wife Jemima has been sent here under a Jewish conspiracy, although we knew that she had converted to Islam. We ran her out of the country. Yes, but this crazy Imran, left his wife but did not leave Pakistan and he even did not claim half of her wealth under the British divorce law. Never seen a bigger fool … I heard it was like much more than half-a-billion dollars!

“Really, this Imran is what you-call-in Punjabi hudd haram [strong headed].

“As you see, although Jemima is no longer his wife but I have re-invigorated this Jewish-label against Imran. Let us hope that it works this time. Last week, launching my campaign, I fired my first salvo saying that we know that he has formed this Economic Advisory Council to influence our economy with Jewish ways. Because, Imran is always talking about Quaid-e-Azam, I said this is not the Pakistan that the Quaid-e-Azam had envisioned. I stressed that this is a revolt against his vision. Moreover, in my role as religious scholar, I said that Jihad becomes mandatory against anyone who takes anti-Islam steps.”

After patiently hearing the Maulana, Shahbaz moaned, “You know besides this JIT, Zardari’s close aides are facing their troubles and those too will come to haunt him.”

The Maulana impatiently added, “See I am always willing to work with those who I feel could benefit me. You know my record. You remember that in 2007, I hosted a dinner for Anne Patterson, who was the American ambassador here, and I requested her support me in becoming the prime minister of Pakistan and told her of my desire to visit America as the representative of the people of Pakistan.

“At the moment Zardari owns Sindh. I count on him. I am sure he would be open to sharing. Even if he is sent to join your brother in Adiala Jail, but by that time, I can get a few good permits and commission-laden things from him. I am soon meeting him to tell him that we should let the presidential elections bygones be bygones. I will assure him that I am doing fine without public housing for now.”

A visibly flustered Shahbaz Sharif, indicating to the Maulana that the meeting was over, could only mutter, “Really can anyone count on Asif Zardari?”

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