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Imran terms Abbasi ‘puppet PM’

Updated November 20, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has dubbed Shahid Khaqan Abbasi a “puppet prime minister” and said he is so powerless that he cannot even remove a “corrupt” minister from his cabinet.

Apparently commenting on media reports that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N had left it entirely to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to take a decision about his own resignation, the PTI chairman in a message on Sunday on the social media website Twitter said it was “shocking” that the prime minister was unable to remove Mr Dar.

Mr Khan alleged that Mr Dar was not being sacked “simply because the Sharif mafia was petrified that he might spill more beans about their [Sharifs’] money laundering”.

“Shocking! Puppet of [PML-N president] Nawaz Sharif, PM Abbasi can’t remove Finance Minister Dar, the Sharif mafia’s front man and absconder from justice facing multiple charges of corruption and money laundering, simply because Sharif mafia [is] petrified he may spill more beans about their money laundering post his earlier confession,” tweeted Mr Khan.

Assails premier for not sacking minister

The latest tweet by the PTI chief prompted a response from Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of Mr Sharif, who declared that the PTI chief himself was a “puppet”, accusing him of issuing the statement through Twitter after getting orders from somewhere.

“Puppet is a word synonymous with you [Imran Khan]. Aaj ye tweet kerne ka hukam mila hai [today you have been ordered to tweet this],” she wrote on her Twitter account.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Abbasi, Musaddiq Malik, had stated on Saturday that Finance Minister Dar would himself make a decision about quitting or staying in the federal cabinet depending upon his health, claiming that so far the minister had been looking after the day-to-day affairs of his ministry in an efficient manner in consultation with the finance secretary.

Mr Malik had refuted the reports that work at the finance ministry was getting affected in the absence of the minister.

Mr Dar was indicted by an accountability court on Sept 27 in a corruption reference but has continued to serve as minister amid strong criticism from opposition parties.

The accountability court on Nov 14 issued non-bailable arrest warrants for the minister due to his absence from court.

The court is hearing the corruption reference against the minister who is accused of accumulating assets worth an estimated Rs831.7 million, which is disproportionate with his known sources of income.

A central spokesman for the PTI, Fawad Chaudhry, also lashed out at the prime minister. “The incumbent prime minister seems handcuffed to remove his own corrupt finance minister,” he said in a statement issued by the PTI’s Central Media Department.

Mr Chaudhry said the PML-N must learn that governments could not be run “by begging”. He further stated that it was extremely reprehensible that the sitting prime minister was unable to remove a corrupt minister from his cabinet.

Taking a jibe at the Sharif family, he said they frequently spoke of “a conspiracy” whenever someone referred to their “exposed crimes” but kept mum about the billions that were transferred to their accounts overnight.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2017