ABBOTTABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa and senior judge of the Supreme Court Justice Gulzar Ahmed to come forward and restore public confidence in the judiciary and criticised opposition parties over what he described as ‘a circus on a container’ aimed at evading accountability.
“If there ever is an expert on dharna [sit-in], it is me standing right here,” said Prime Minister Khan before mocking his political opponents for “giving up” too early.
He was addressing the inaugural ceremony of Havelian-Mansehra section of the Hazara motorway at Havelian on Monday evening. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and federal ministers Omar Ayub Khan and Murad Saeed besides the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan were also present at the ceremony.
Lashing out at the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl’s dharna, Mr Khan said a “circus was staged by opposition parties on the container. I had said earlier that I would have agreed to all their demands if they could last a month on those containers. We [the PTI] stage a sit-in for 126 days,” he recalled.
Slams opposition parties for evading accountability by staging ‘a circus on container’
Criticising the JUI-F leadership for ‘hiding’ in the comfort of their ‘warm rooms’, he said ordinary workers braved the cold and rain during the sit-in. He said that Maulana Fazlur Rehman had brought innocent students of seminaries on roads by telling them that the prime minister was going to recognise Israel and that Islam was in danger. Mr Khan said the people were cheated by the so-called Ulema in the name of Islam.
He said that the sit-in distracted world attention from the people of India-held Kashmir who had been under siege for more than 100 days, as the entire media was busy in the coverage of dharna whereas a ‘long list of jobless, corrupt politicians’ were standing on the container. He said PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari as per his assessment joined hands when asked to return the looted wealth of the nation. He said they wanted an NRO-like relief that he said he would never give them in his lifetime. He said he considered such a move an ‘unforgivable sin’.
The PM said the government had only demanded an amount of Rs7 billion in the shape of indemnity bonds which he said was very little when compared to the mega corruption of the Sharif brothers.
About the PML-N president’s undertaking accepted by the Lahore High Court, Mr Khan said the son and sons-in-law of Shahbaz Sharif were fugitive. “Who will provide a guarantee for them? On top of that there are corruption cases pending against you (Shahbaz) as well. Who will give your guarantee?” He said the nation had understood his (Shahbaz’s) ‘dramas’.
Mocking Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s statement on rains and flooding, the PM mimicked the PPP chairman to say “when it rains, water pours down. When it rains more, more water pours down.” Mr Khan further said: “Bilawal claims to be a liberal; in fact, he is nothing but liberally corrupt.”
In response to the mimicry, the PPP chairman tweeted: “I am neither liberal nor corrupt or a hypocrite. I am progressive and a visionary with one year in politics. You are 70 years old who has been doing ‘selected’ politics for 20 years. If you have any identity, it is of taking U-turns, of being a hypocrite and a puppet.”
In his address, PM Khan also said that speedy and quick justice for all would lay the foundation of the country’s new system based on the principles of ‘Riasat-i-Madina’. He said there was a perceived disparity in how the powerful and common people were treated in the country’s judicial system. He said he was ready to support the judiciary to change the perception and restore public confidence in the institutions.
The premier said the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which had been limited to roads and power stations previously, was becoming a ‘real game changer’ with transfer of technology in different fields. He said the agriculture and dairy farming would be the main beneficiary of technology transfer.
Earlier in his welcome address, federal Minister for Communication Murad Saeed said the National Highway Authority (NHA) and the postal services, which were near default in the past, had shown major improvement. He said both the departments had contributed over Rs10 billion to the national kitty.
Mr Saeed claimed that the government would offer training to 45,000 youth, followed by internship and job offers for them.
Meanwhile, PML-N parliamentary party leader in KP Assembly Aurangzeb Nulhota along with a number of party supporters staged a protest demonstration in Abbottabad. He said the Hazara motorway project was the brainchild of Nawaz Sharif. He said the PTI government was cheating people by taking the credit for the Hazara motorway project whose foundation stone was laid by former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
Meanwhile, the PML-N supporters were told that the banners and billboards displayed along the motorway by the party workers were allegedly removed by the district administration.
Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2019