PML-N warns against removal of Shahbaz as PAC chief

Updated February 11, 2019

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Khawaja Asif says Shahbaz's removal as PAC chairman will "make matters worse". — File photo
Khawaja Asif says Shahbaz's removal as PAC chairman will "make matters worse". — File photo

SIALKOT/LAHORE: As a minister of state reiterated the government’s demand for removal of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif from the position of chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Sunday, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader and former foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif warned that any such move would “make matters worse”.

“We do not want to climb containers [to mount a public protest], but we have the capacity to disrupt the functioning of the government,” Mr Asif said while talking to reporters in Sialkot.

The call for Mr Sharif’s resignation from the post of PAC chairman was made by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader and Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul at a calligraphy exhibition in Lahore.

“Since PTI leader Abdul Aleem Khan has set an example by resigning from the position of minister, Shahbaz Sharif should also resign from the chairmanship of PAC,” she said.

Aleem Khan resigned recently from the position of senior Punjab minister after he was arrested by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on corruption charges. Mr Sharif, who is facing similar charges, is already under NAB custody and attends PAC’s meetings after the National Assembly speaker issues production orders for him.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s adviser on political affairs Naeemul Haque, who was also in Lahore on Sunday, said the government would let Mr Shahbaz continue as the PAC chairman only after he “gives an undertaking to behave”.

He was responding to a journalist’s question about the possibility of the PTI-led government moving a no-confidence motion against Mr Sharif.

Mr Asif, meanwhile, said the prime minister seemed to be under some stress at an event that he addressed in Balloki on Saturday. In his speech, the premier had said that his government would grant no concessions to “corrupt leaders”.

Answering a question, the former minister said the current system faced certain dangers “but we want the system to work”.

He claimed the government was only printing currency notes and by now it had printed notes worth Rs1.4 trillion.

“Imran Khan has yet to act upon what he has been saying for the past 22 years. Economic advisers are leaving him now and for the first time a prime minister is going to the International Monetary Fund [IMF] for money.” He was referring to the premier’s meeting with IMF chief in the UAE on Sunday.

About National Reconciliation Ordinance-like deals, Mr Asif said that only prime minister’s sister Aleema Khan had been given an “NRO”.

He said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif should be given proper medical care, as recommended by his doctors.

The former minister said if the ex-premier was given a bail by a court, the PML-N would call for his treatment abroad.

Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2019