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Minister says Shahbaz should take over PML-N

Updated October 20, 2017


MINISTER for Inter-Provincial Coordination Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada addressing a press conference.—APP
MINISTER for Inter-Provincial Coordination Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada addressing a press conference.—APP

ISLAMABAD / LAHORE: Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada has criticised the decision of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz of electing disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif as party head.

Speaking at a meet-the-press programme at the National Press Club here on Thursday, the minister said Shahbaz Sharif should take over the PML-N as he better understood the people’s issues. If Shahbaz Sharif led the PML-N, a major political force in the country, it would be in the greater interest of the party, he added.

Mr Pirzada also criticised the governance and judicial system of the country, saying it was not helping the poor people.

“I still remember how my election results were changed in 1990. I had come to know that the judge, who heard the case, received Rs500,000 as bribe from my opponent,” the minister said.

Punjab govt spokesman says it’s pragmatic to hand over reins of party to ex-PM’s brother

He said there was a need to bring about real changes in the judicial system of the country, particularly at lower courts where thousands of people come to seek justice daily.

“All institutions are meant for people, so there should be equal opportunities for all,” Mr Pirzada said.

Speaking on the indictment of Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar, the minister said political leaders were supposed to face trial if there were corruption charges against them. In the past, he said, PPP leaders, including Asif Ali Zardari and Yousuf Raza Gilani, faced courts on corruption charges.

The minister criticised Article 63A of the Constitution and said a member of parliament should be free to vote in accordance with his conscience and free will. This article barred members of national and provincial assemblies in certain matters form voting according to their conscience because it bound them to the decision of the party head, he added.

“Thank God, I was not in the country when parliament passed the Elections Bill, 2017, recently,” he said. Through this bill the ruling party paved the way for an otherwise ineligible Nawaz Sharif to head his own faction of the Muslim League, he added.

The federal minister, who in the past took a stand against some decisions of the ruling party such as the removal of the director general of the Pakistan Sports Board, said there was no truth in the news of setting up of a government of technocrats in the country.

“A caretaker set-up or technocrat government is not the solution of the problems in the country, and therefore elected representatives who are supposed to resolve the issues of people should fulfil their responsibility,” he said.

Despite the prime minister’s statement that the Intelligence Bureau’s letter which linked 37 lawmakers to terrorist organisations was fake, the outspoken cabinet member said the media did a great job by informing the lawmakers about the IB list. He said the government had got an FIR registered against the TV anchor just to cover up its blunder.

Punjab government’s reaction

Mr Pirzada’s demand for handover of the PML-N presidentship to Shahbaz Sharif did not come as a surprise to the Punjab government that supported his viewpoint under current the political situation.

Punjab government spokesman Malik Ahmad Khan told Dawn that it was a reality that PML-N politics revolved around Mian Nawaz Sharif.

“The moderate section in the party does not want confrontation with the institutions and wants the system to work. We do not see Riaz Pirzada’s suggestion as unusual as it is a pragmatic approach to hand over the party’s presidentship to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Mr Shahbaz always served his party and his elder brother and after donning the cap of president (of the party) he will continue doing so,” he while giving the Shahbaz administration’s reaction to Mr Pirzada’s suggestion.

Mr Khan said if “this hostility” [between the Sharif family and judiciary and military establishments] continued, it might endanger the political process. “Unconstitutional arrangements may be made if this Hobbesian state of nature continues,” he said.

The Punjab government spokesman further said: “We must realise that all politically-motivated cases meet their logical end in the wake of a fresh mandate. So we must have pragmatic approach and deal the situation accordingly,” he added.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2017