ISLAMABAD: A member of the federal cabinet caused a small uproar on Tuesday when he stated publicly that “Saudi money” had had a destructive effect on Pakistan and that the promotion of the ideology of Wahabism had destabilised the country.

Riaz Ahmed Peerzada, who is the Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC), minced no words during his talk at the Jinnah Institute’s Ideas Conclave 2015 and also took his own party’s leadership to task.

He called upon the great powers — naming the US and Saudi Arabia specifically — to allow countries of the world to live in peace and said they should not fund terrorists or arm them. “Every country should be left to their devices and they should be run according to the wishes of the people and the civil society of those countries,” he told reporters after his speech at the conclave.

Mr Peerzada also appeared quite angry about the 21st Amendment and said that the formation of military courts seemed like the act of a characterless and cowardly leadership. He also announced his imminent retirement from public life during the speech.

The minister, who joined the PML-N a short while before the elections, was sworn in as a member of the cabinet on June 27, 2013. The MNA from Bahawalpur has suffered personally at the hands of religious extremists; his father was murdered in his own home by men purportedly linked with the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba.

Even on Tuesday, as he spoke to media persons following his speech, he appeared visibly emotional about it. When asked by a reporter to repeat his remarks regarding the Saudi influence in Pakistan, he got riled up and said, “You know very well where the funding comes from. Why do you need me to say it?” However, he immediately added, “Of course I’ll say it. I’ve lost my father already, why wouldn’t I say it now.”

Published in Dawn January 21st , 2015

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