On The Side

Asad Umar's letter to the Prime Minister

Published Jun 27, 2019 01:39pm

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Dear Khan Sahab,

It was because of your advances that I left a well-paying job at a company that wanted me out in the first place. I had nothing to do with politics except my father being a close aide to former president General Yahya Khan and my brother, Zubair Omar, being in Nawaz Sharif’s party. All I had to rely on in politics were my savings from my job with a mere salary of seven million rupees per month and a few millions more that I got in stock options from my employer. I took such a big risk because I knew it had to be me to rescue Pakistan. Who could better understand the plight of the poor than me?

I knew one day it would be up to me to follow in my father’s footsteps and lead Pakistan to more glory. Thank you Imran Khan for giving me that opportunity.

I knew you were the one when I first laid my eyes on you. I could see the pain you felt for the poor when I visited your humble abode in Bani Gala. Both of us shared the same taste for everything that comes from the West combined with our disdain for Western culture. We struck a perfect balance by taking our families to England and the United States for vacation and then coming back to Pakistan to bash the West for votes. The IMF (International Monetary Fund) is the enemy but the chicken McNuggets from McDonald’s are amazing. Colonel Sanders can drone my stomach anytime he wants.

In ‘Khan we trust’ I thought; in Khan we have found a man who will let me play out my economic fantasies on an entire nation with zero regard for the consequences. I got tired of playing SimCity and building economic models. I wanted to try out my theories in the real world and you made those dreams come true even if it meant thousands of people losing their livelihoods. I promise all the models worked perfectly on my computer-simulated programmes — I only forgot to factor in people in my calculations. Well, at least we tried, right? After all, all is fair in love, war and economics. In any case it was your fault that you trusted a marketing graduate with an entire country’s financial policies.

It was so much fun going on television every night with my statistics and figures, lambasting Ishaq Dar and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s failed policies. It was the greatest honour of my life to give the people of Pakistan hope and make them believe that I will rescue them from the quagmires of life and lead them to economic prosperity. It boosted my self-image to no end. Does it really matter if their hopes remain unrealised?

Illustration by Leea Contractor
Illustration by Leea Contractor

You have now chosen another man over me and left me with nothing but national recognition: a standing offer to head the ministry of energy, all the wealth I inherited from my father, all the wealth I accumulated myself and the distinction to have ‘ex finance minister’ on my CV. And also my position as the head of the National Assembly’s standing committee on finance.

As I stand on the edge of the Swat river amid these brokeback mountains posing for pictures to make the nation sympathise with me, I want to thank you, Imran, if I may call you by your first name, because while we promised tabdeeli to a nation and I got tabdeel in the process, the greatest tabdeeli has been within me. Think about it, Imran, who were we when we stood at D-chowk and made people promise that we would kill ourselves before going to the IMF? Maybe we should have burned the parliament down that day, riding into the sunset together rather than ever taking control of the government. Being in the opposition was so much more fun. Now Bilawal gets to have all the fun and we cannot even call him Sahiba and throw gender slurs at the opposition, questioning if they are mard kay bachay.

Maybe running Pakistan is not the same thing as running a company. Who would have known, right? If only I was in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for six years before eventually becoming the finance minister I would have had time to actually do my homework rather than trying everything out for the first time.

What does the IMF deal have to do with me now? What do I have to do with people being unable to afford food? If they can’t eat samosas and pakoras, let them eat cake instead.

It is time for me to go. Parting is such a sweet sorrow. You continue telling the media, and your heart, that there is a chance I will come back and we know I will, but not before we can blame Abdul Hafeez Shaikh for all the mess. I can ride back in like the white colonial saviours we worship. All I will need to do is go on a few television shows lambasting the economic regime, and people will love me again. You will love me again.

Till the day we meet again, I am tendering my resignation,which is pointless considering you have already removed me, but I need to save some face so I will pretend I resigned like I pretended I resigned from my company.

Thank you,

Asad Umar


This article is part of the Herald's satire series titled 'Newsbite', originally published in the Herald's June 2019 issue. To read more subscribe to the Herald in print.