ISLAMABAD: Asking Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif to not be afraid of his appointment as a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said on Thursday that he would play his legal and constitutional role in the panel while refraining from indulging in any controversy.
The minister also said he would move the Supreme Court, after the decision of the Lahore High Court, to challenge appointment of Mr Sharif as PAC chairman. “In my opinion, an ‘immoral’ person cannot be appointed chairman of the PAC that’s why I will bring the matter before the Supreme Court,” he said at a news conference at the National Press Club.
Explaining his nomination as PAC member by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Mr Ahmed said that with his membership, a minister would also become a member of the committee and that the prime minister had nominated him to replace Riaz Fatyana in the parliamentary body.
“I have a nomination letter from Imran Khan and now the matter is with the National Assembly speaker,” he said. “I am the senior most parliamentarian and had been a member of the PAC during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government’s tenure and also headed other committees.”
Rana Sanaullah requests for committee membership to face minister
The minister said that before his nomination, the prime minister consulted the law ministry and after getting its approval, the PM nominated him.
He lashed out at the opposition, saying the PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party were not sincere with the democratic system and they were struggling only to conceal their corruption. “The leaders of both parties wanted NRO to safeguard their corruption, but after getting refusal, they started struggle for relaxation in the name of illness,” he said.
“Both parties’ leaders carry a big luggage of corruption and they should say adieu to politics,” said.
In reply to a question, he said how Mr Sharif’s production orders could be issued while he was on remand. Mr Ahmed said his production orders were not issued when he was in jail during the tenure of Benazir Bhutto’s government. “Yousuf Raza Gilani’s and other leaders’ production orders were also not issued in the past, but such facility is allowed for the Sharifs,” he said.
Answering another question about dismissal of journalists from jobs, he appealed to media organisations to have a lenient view on this issue.
Talking about his ministry, Mr Ahmed said he would journey by train from Friday (today) to travel to various destinations across the country for having firsthand knowledge about the Pakistan Railways’ functioning and problems of passengers.
He said the railways had established a number of complaint centres and would introduce a tracking system in a few days to enable passengers to know exact location of trains from their homes.
The minister also hinted at merging certain departments of the Pakistan Railways to control expenditure as he mentioned the recent experience of merging some departments with others that had saved diesel worth millions of rupees.
He said 20 new trains were on track within first 100 days of the government while Thal Express would be on track during February. WiFi facility would be available in trains and at railway stations soon, he added.
In reply to a question about removal of encroachments from the Karachi Circular Railway route, the minister said land along 21km stretch in commercial use had been vacated, while support of the Sindh government was needed for vacation of land under residential use.
PML-N leader’s request
On the other hand, PML-N MNA Rana Sanaullah Khan has requested the party’s president Shahbaz Sharif to appoint him PAC member so that he could face Sheikh Rashid.
Talking to the media outside Kot Lakhpat jail, Mr Khan alleged that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leaders were involved in moral and monetary corruption and the work had been started to compile the details. “Soon, PTI leader Murad Saeed will be screaming over arrest of his party’s leaders in corruption cases and Sheikh Rashid will talking to media outside Kot Lakhpat jail,” he said.
The PML-N leader said that within a year, the PTI leaders would face the music over their moral and monetary corruption. “The PTI government has failed to deliver during the last six months and it has stopped development works in the country,” he said.
“The PTI government is involved in the Sahiwal incident,” he alleged and said the blood of innocent people would not go waste and the government would have to face consequences of this crime. The next government would form an impartial joint investigation team to probe the incident, he said.
Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2019