There is crisis brewing in the Middle East, what for Pakistan ought to be called the Middle West or That Very Large Employment Agency. Audi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain have decided to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. Which had the Qatari ambassador fuming, “Now what will I wear with all my suits,” and a minute later, “Wait, who is Bahrain?”

The reason given was Qatar’s continued support for Islamist groups. “That’s our job,” complained the Audi Minister for Affairs, Abdel al Jubeir. Audi Arabia also expressed its dislike for Iran. “It’s a bit Shiite,” added the minister.

The reaction from Pakistan, like Ramiz Raja’s commentary, ought to have been muted. But self-appointed Foreign Minister Ahmed al Qureshi ran a special four-hour telecast called Qatar Ka Muqaddama, and self-appointed columnist Oreo Maqbool Jan wrote about the importance of unity against Iran in the Muslim world.

Experts warned this latest development could create a Gulf in the Ummah. They also advised against Pakistan getting embroiled in a spat between Islamic nations, so that’s exactly what the government did.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif flew to Audi Arabia earlier this week to plead with King Salman not to embargo Qatar as he might require more letters from a Qatari prince. “Also, who is this Bahrain?” he was later heard asking.

King Salman offered to write the letters himself, even willing to put on paper that he was once so enamoured with Maryam Nawaz that he gifted her the London flats and the Jeddah Steel Mills as gifts on Sheikh Valentine’s Day.

But Nawaz Sharif had to explain to the king that they had already submitted an affidavit, “You see we have this thing called a justice system and it has certain rules to be followed.”

“Well that doesn’t sound fun,” the king continued, “Why must you produce steel anyway? Is there no oil in Punjab?”

“There is, but we put it all in our food.” Nawaz Sharif then asked a question in turn, “I heard you recently signed an arms deal?”

“Yes, and a legs deal is to follow.”

Current Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa was also in attendance. King Salman enthusiastically told him that he used to read his tweets. “No I’m not the same Bajwa,” he laughed and then said seriously, “Your highness, we simply must find out who this Bahrain is.”

Retired Chief of Army and Civilian Staff, General Bobby Sharif meanwhile, who now heads the Islamic Military Alliance — and was chosen ahead of General Zaid Zaman Hamid because while the latter had a better CV, he also carried a criminal record in Audi Arabia, where having served a sentence is punishable by death — said that Operation Zarb-i-Azb could soon be expanded to Qatar. “It was always our aim to bring Zarb-i-Azb to other countries to showcase the softer side of Pakistan,” he added, putting out a cigar.

The Emir was unphased, “Thankfully we have Al Jazeera to show the world how this isn’t about us financing terrorists. Al Jazeera is the best network in Qatar, well the only network in Qatar but still the best. What is the best network in Pakistan?” “Haqqani,” answered General Bajwa.

Nawaz Sharif assured King Salman that, “Bobby would take care of everything.” But the king remained skeptical, “This is a Gulf crisis not a golf crisis.”

The Pakistani PM and COAS duo then went on foot to Qatar, as all flights remained cancelled. Nawaz Sharif was introduced to the Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, the Deputy Emir Abdullah bin Hammad bin Khalifa al Thani and the Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al Thani. To which he said, “Well, your names are easy to remember,” and then introduced himself as Nawaz bin Sharif al Khalifa al Raiwind.

General Bajwa explained to the Qatari Emir that he cannot deploy Pakistani troops in Qatar. That would mean fighting his senior General Raheel Sharif and he would have to lose out of courtesy. “In the Pakistan military, we respect our elders. Unless they’re called Ashfaq. Pervez. Or Kiyani.”

The Emir was unphased, “Thankfully we have Al Jazeera to show the world how this isn’t about us financing terrorists. Al Jazeera is the best network in Qatar, well the only network in Qatar but still the best. What is the best network in Pakistan?”

“Haqqani,” answered General Bajwa.

Nawaz Sharif also told the Emir he had little time to mediate the Middle East conflict, as he had to appear before the Supreme Court to explain how he had amassed so much wealth despite being deposed from rule twice. “I must go before the Supreme Court, because in Pakistan we respect the opposition, unless they’re called Imran. Khan. Or Niazi.”

“But mister prime minister, you simply must pick a side,” replied Emir al Thani.

“Okay, left.”

“Can you be of any use to us at all?” asked the Emir, smiling politely as his guards produced scimitars from their thawbs. “If I were any use to anyone I wouldn’t be the prime minister of Pakistan,” answered Sharif smiling just as politely.

“But rest assured that we stand with you,” continued Nawaz Sharif.

“But I heard you stand with the Audis too.”

“No we sat with them.”

“Isn’t Pakistan now a province of China anyway?” asked an unimpressed al Thani. “I wish to speak to Xi Jinping. Also, who is this Bahrain?”

Published in Dawn, EOS, June 18th, 2017

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