Nawaz Sharif’s Lexus

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Syed Haider Raza Mehdi


The daily display of increasing power generation by PMLN reminds me of my Toyota days when Nawaz was 1st time PM.

One day received, I received a call from the PM house requesting a Toyota LEXUS for the PM.

It was Capt. Safdar, not married to Maryam Antoinette Safdar then. I think.

His tone was very arrogant ( The PM house has a way of destroying ones values). So, after putting him in his place by asking for his PMA course and sharing mine, knowing he would most likely be junior to me, I pulled rank and said. Haan Safdar, buthaao. What can I do for you?

His tone changed and very politely asked if we could order a Lexus for the PM.

I said I’ll check and asked him to call me back the next day (I had a lot of fun in those days putting these arrogant type flunkies in their place)

Toyota Japan refused saying Lexus’s could only be exported to countries where they had been launched and a dealer network existed to support them.

This was mid 1992, and we still hadn’t launched our locally manufactured Toyota Corolla and neither was our full scale 3S dealership in place. So pretty much a snowball’s chance in hell for a Lexus. PM or no PM.

I conveyed the same to Safdar. All hell broke loose. Safdar pleaded, used the old Army card, then senior staffers got involved. A Rear Admiral etc. And even I felt that our dignity was compromised.

So we pushed the Japanese really hard and they finally gave in but at a very expensive price tag.

We had to buy not 1 but 3 vehicles. 1 for the PM.1 to replace it immediately if it broke down. And the third as a back up to the back up. These Japs were just amazing.

Plus we had to buy and keep another Rs. 1 million worth of special Lexus service equipment and spares and special training of our Islamabad dealer and their mechanics in Japan. All to be paid by us. And then and only then will they allow a Lexus to be imported.

Long story short. We said yes. The Govt paid for one Lexus and we footed the remainder.

Nearly every week the PM house would call for the status till I stopped taking their calls and handed them over to our Fleet Sales Manager, a sweet fellow, who could talk you to death on the phone without committing anything and you felt he’d agreed to everything you said. And he loved these long conversations with the PM house.

I still vividly remember the day the ship arrived with Nawaz’s Lexus and the call from the PM house this time a Brigadier (senior to me. He’d been brought in to talk to that “Paagal Kuptaan” Toyota General Manager – me)

I gave him the good news and informed that it’ll be cleared in day or two etc.

The next day Nawaz’s Government was dismissed and the person who ended up driving the Lexus was none other then our very own and very happy and ever smiling Asif Zardari.

I think after achieving this power thing, not the PMLN, but Imran will reap the benefits and ride the wave of this power generation!

Lexus, anyone?

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