ISLAMABAD: Accusing Prime Minister Imran Khan of dragging “national institutions” into politics, the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) says the party believes that army is not behind the ongoing policy of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government to ‘victimise’ its political opponents.
“We believe that our army and military leadership have nothing to do with the government’s actions to take revenge (from its political opponents) as our military and (other) national institutions are non-political and they stay away from politics,” said PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal while talking to reporters after appearing before an accountability court here on Wednesday in a case regarding alleged misuse of authority in the Narowal Sports City project.
“The government is giving an impression that our national institutions are partners with it in its victimisation policy, which is not good for national security and I severely condemn it,” said Mr Iqbal.
The PTI government, he said, had been repeatedly claiming that it was on the same page with the army leadership “and giving an impression that our national institutions are hands in gloves with the government in all its black deeds and that whatever it is doing, it is doing on their (national institutions) whims.” He expressed the hope that the “military leadership will take notice of the government’s act of involving it in its cruel acts.”
The former interior minister said that to bring Pakistan out of the grey list, the opposition had cooperated with the government with all sincerity in the passage of the legislations as per requirement of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), but it could not allow the government to impose a black law in the country using the name of FATF. “We will not let Pakistan become a fascist state in the name of FATF. We will not let Imran Khan become Pakistan’s Hitler using the name of FATF,” the PML-N leader declared.
He said the opposition had not defeated the FATF-related bills in the Senate, but it had actually defeated the government’s thinking and moved to bulldoze the legislation through which it wanted to put its political opponents behind the bars.
Responding to a question, the PML-N leader said the opposition had suggested a number of amendments to the controversial Anti-Money Laundering Bill which the government had accepted, but at the eleventh hour, it presented a draft of the bill that did not carry those amendments.
He reiterated that the opposition would not allow the government to impose any black laws in the name of FATF and said the opposition was still ready to cooperate with the government on FATF legislation, which was a national security issue. But it could not allow Imran Khan to become Hitler, a reference to the German leader’s tyranny and dictatorship.
Mr Iqbal said the opposition had faced military dictator Pervez Musharraf and would not be influenced by the alleged victimisation policy of Mr Khan.
The PML-N leader alleged that as the past experiments of setting up of parties and factions like Convention Muslim League and the PML-Q had failed, “the experiment of the PTI government will also fail”.
Talking about the case against him in the accountability court, the PML-N leader expressed his surprise over the allegation of ‘misuse of authority’ against him when the government could not find corruption in the Narowal Sports City Project. He told the media that if building a sports facility for the country’s youth was a crime, he would continue to commit it. Ironically, he added, this was being done at a time when a former captain of national cricket team was in power.
Earlier, his counsel Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri informed the court that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had failed to file a reference against his client despite the fact that the apex court had also asked them to do so. The judge remarked that if NAB would fail to file a reference, Mr Iqbal would be at liberty whether or not to appear in person on the next date.
PML-N wants unrealistic changes to NAB laws
In response to Mr Iqbal’s remarks, PTI secretary general Aamer Mehmood Kiani said that how could a person facing corruption charges could talk like this and make allegations against others.
In a statement, Mr Kiani said the PML-N had demanded NRO in writing by suggesting unrealistic changes to the NAB laws. He alleged that the main purpose of the opposition to block FATF legislations in the parliament was to make efforts to have a deal with the government to save their corruption. He said the prime minister had categorically declared that he would not give NRO to any corrupt and dishonest person.
Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2020