Our political parties may disagree on whether women deserve protection in Pakistan or not; they may disagree if men should marry 12-year-old girls or not; they may disagree whether all Hindus should be converted to Islam or just the girls; they may disagree whether Aurat March organisers should be hanged or not; they might even disagree whether to build a 1,000-foot statue of Imran Khan in Islamabad or a 2000-foot one; but we must commend our lawmakers for setting aside their differences to resolve the most important issue facing the country — their own salaries.
It is so heartening to see lawmakers unite across party divides, taking some time out from calling each other blasphemers and wanting to drag each other through the streets.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) members may hurl gender insults at Bilawal Bhutto and think of Nawaz Sharif as corrupt but they are ready for a mukmuka if it means more money for themselves. At least PTI is delivering on some of its promises — even if it is just the promise of money for lawmakers who jumped ship from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to join PTI in 2018. There needs to be some special compensation for them for helping the party run the largest province in the country.
The only thing preventing Usman Buzdar from going full Chulbul Pandey of Dabang has been his salary. With more money he, too, could have a Salman Khan body and afford to plaster his face all over Punjab; maybe that way some Punjabis will recognise him and not think that Shahbaz Sharif is still the chief minister. Maybe with extra money Buzdar can finally buy Shahbaz Sharif’s old safari suits. Maybe some people will confuse him for Shahbaz Sharif and respect him a little this way. If all else fails, he can butcher some Jalib poetry on stage for effect.
What else is there left for PTI to do? It has accomplished everything in a year. Through the power of photoshop and Fawad Chaudhry’s silver tongue, PTI has delivered on everything it promised. Pakistan has raised a billion dollars for the dam fund; we have built a border wall on the Line of Control and helicopters have been made to offer local travel at 55 rupees per kilometre. We need to reward our lawmakers with increased salaries for all these accomplishments. Poor members of the Punjab Assembly like Pervaiz Elahi, Abdul Aleem Khan and 400 other Chaudhrys really deserve a pay hike from 83,000 rupees to 210,000 rupees.
With the rupee so devalued, the lawmakers have no options but to increase their own salaries. Their children study abroad so the exchange rate really hits them hard. They also need more money for their summer vacations to America. Asad Umar’s handling of the economy should not mean our poor lawmakers cannot take a summer vacation abroad — it should mean those below the poverty line should die.
Do people not realise how hard it is to spend 20,000,000 rupees a month while drawing a salary of 83,000 rupees? This way it will become slightly easier for them to claim they are Sadiq, Ameen and living well within their means.
Also, why should Faisal Vawda be the only one with a Lamborghini? I am happy if my tax dollars are used for buying Usman Buzdar a Lamborghini. It is worth the petrol price increase just for the memes that will come out with pictures of Usman Buzdar driving a Lamborghini.
Imran Khan would obviously not stand idly by as all this happened. The man who performed push-ups on stage to get into office responded with the strongest action available to him as Prime Minister and leader of PTI — he tweeted about it.
Imran Khan even summoned Usman Buzdar but, after looking at him, he decided Buzdar needs more money and went back to not knowing anything about Uighur Muslims. If we ignore the topic long enough, China will love us and give us a lot of money. Nobody will remember a few lakhs given to lawmakers here and there.
To combat any criticism of his own party colleagues increasing their salaries, Fawad Chaudhry has already released more pictures of Arif Alvi sleeping at the airport to show austerity. Alvi is hogging all the seats but nothing makes a Pakistani man more relatable than a picture of him taking more than he deserves.
If things get worse and people start realising the PTI government is no different from others, the party may just be forced to make Imran Khan sleep on a container for a few weeks to show the country how austere the government is.
Remember — treat yourself!
This article is part of the Herald's satire series titled 'Newsbite', originally published in the April 2019 issue. To read more subscribe to the Herald in print.