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Saad fulminates against detractors

December 11, 2017

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LAHORE: Railways Minister Khwaja Saad Rafique on Sunday opened a Pandora’s box by saying that the government’s refusal to grant “extension” (to a former army chief and a former LEA head) resulted in targeting of the ruling PML-N.

Recalling the Islamabad sit-in by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf in 2014, Mr Rafique rhetorically asked him (Mr Khan) to tell at whose behest he had put up the show.

The PML-N leader said the question of extension had arisen (at that time). “When we refused the extension, we started facing one challenge after another and are now being accused of committing wrongdoings,” the minister said at the inauguration of retired Capt Mobeen Shaheed underpass on Guru Mangat Road.

Says govt’s stance on ‘extension issue’ proved its undoing

Visibly perturbed over the opposition’s possible alliance over the Model Town incident in which 14 supporters of Dr Tahirul Qadri were killed by the Punjab police in June 2014, the minister said: “How many more conspiracies you will hatch. Do oppose us but spare the country... This message is for those who staged a sit-in and also for those who make (threatening) calls to the (PML-N) MNAs. Twenty PML-N men said they received threatening calls from unknown numbers ahead of the National Assembly session meant for Nawaz-specific amendment.”

Mr Rafique had recently resumed his outbursts after the National Accountability Bureau launched investigation into a mega land scam involving his Paragon Housing Society in Lahore and the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC). “The more you tease me the more loudly I will speak. I have not grabbed an inch of a land in the city,” he thundered.

Talking about the possible defections in the PML-N, the minister said: “A political party does not get weaker after being ditched by some legislators. In fact, the deserters do not get anything at the end of the day.” His remarks came in the backdrop of resignation of five PML-N legislators -- two MNAs and three MPAs -- who fulfilled the demand of Sargodha-based cleric Pir Hameeduddin Sialvi. Pir Sialvi wants Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah’s resignation for his controversial remarks about a minority community. Besides, the ruling party is suspecting the loyalty of 20 or so MNAs, mostly from south Punjab, who had skipped the Nov 21 National Assembly session in which the bill seeking amendment to Section 203 of the Elections Act 2017, which lifted the legal bar on a person against serving as an office-bearer of a political party, even if he or she was not qualified to be, or was disqualified from being, elected as a member of parliament under Article 63 of the Constitution.

PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry sees fissures in the PML-N ranks, predicting more legislators will resign in the coming days.

Mr Rafique took on both Asif Ali Zardari and Imran Khan. “Imran Khan even can’t serve in D.G Khan jail and he talks about sending others (Sharifs) to Adiala Jail. And Zardari cannot remove Karachi’s garbage so how will he run the country,” he said.

The PML-N leader said his party should be allowed to complete the term otherwise no other government in future would be able to do so.

Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2017