LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader Khawaja Saad Rafique has spilled the beans on his party’s strategy to “go soft” on the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and “mysterious silence” of former prime minister’s daughter Maryam Nawaz.
The former railways minister also believes that his ‘difficult days’ may be over if he becomes a “good boy” and keeps mum on the wishes of the powers that be.
“We fear that if political temperature is raised, democracy may be derailed and that is why we are not going for agitation,” Mr Rafique said at a press conference here on Friday.
“We want to save Pakistan from repeat of another [Bangladesh-like] incident. At present there is a civil martial law in Pakistan in the name of democracy. We see a terrible political future of Prime Minister Imran Khan the way things are going. It is very much likely that Mr Khan will not be able to complete his term,” he said, adding that the country could not be run through “puppet rulers”.
Says Maryam is silent but silence has its own voice
“Such a selective premier like Imran Khan is brought in the wake of rigged polls. Imran Khan and those supporting him want that vocal leaders are sent to jail. Going to jail is the fate of only politicians and a few civil servants. We are told to stitch our lips and become ‘good boys’ and if don’t we are tagged ‘bad boys’. Let me tell you I will play on front foot,” he declared and urged that those involved in “this dangerous game” should stop playing it as it would be detrimental to the solidarity of the country.
In reply to a question about prolonged silence of Maryam Nawaz, the PML-N leader said: “Yes, she is silent but silence has its own voice.”
Ms Nawaz has stopped tweeting and issuing statements since she got bail in the Avenfield reference along with her husband and father in September.
Mr Rafique, who is being named as ‘beneficial owner’ of the Paragon Housing Scheme, took on the National Accountability Bureau for forcing his ‘old friend’ Qaisar Amin Butt to become an approver against him.
“Mr Butt, who started his political career as a councillor along with me, was forced by NAB to turn an approver against me. A magistrate before whom Mr Butt did not give statement against me was changed. Then in the presence of NAB officials a statement of its (NAB’s) choice was extracted from Mr Butt (against me) in violation of the Lahore High Court’s order,” he said and alleged that four other witnesses in this case were tortured [to extract statements against him].
Pointing to his younger brother Khawaja Salman Rafique, who was sitting next to him during the press conference, the PML-N leader said: “He is an innocent man and he is also facing the music [in the NAB case] because of me.”
He said that evidence against him and his brother was being collected in the Paragon housing case for the last one and a half years. “In the PML-N case, NAB first makes arrests and then starts collecting evidence.”
Mr Rafique alleged that Shahzad Akbar, special assistant to the prime minister on accountability, was a link between NAB and Imran Khan. “Shahzad Akbar holds meetings in NAB as he is the link between the bureau and the premier.”
He also said that two new trains were operated on Mianwali and Karachi routes on 100 per cent loss on the wishes of the prime minister and the president. “Because of these trains, substantial increase was made in the fares.”
The PML-N leader taunted PM Khan for his failure on the diplomatic front with India. “Today Imran Khan is begging India to hold talks but the latter is refusing it. The damage done to CPEC by PTI is more than what India could do,” he said.
Reacting to the former railways minister’s remarks, Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hasan Chohan criticised the former for his “dubious role” in the PML-N. “Saad Rafique along with Qaiser Amin Butt launched Paragon Housing Scheme in 2000 when Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif were attending court hearings [in different cases during the Gen Musharraf regime]. Could both Khawaja brothers have made business without striking a deal with a dictator [Musharraf]?” he told reporters outside the Punjab Assembly. Mr Chohan said Mr Rafique was upset after Mr Butt became an approver against him.
Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2018