Rashid retracts his ‘army spokesman’ statement

Updated 27 Sep 2020

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Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid addresses a press conference in Lahore on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV
Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid addresses a press conference in Lahore on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV

LAHORE: Distancing himself from a statement he made during an earlier media talk in Lahore, Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid said on Saturday he was not a spokesman for any institution.

“I am not a spokesman for any institution. I am the most senior among these (politicians) in the country. I said this [that he was a spokesman for the army] just to honour someone,” he said in response to a question during a press conference here.

Mr Rashid had said on Friday during a media talk that he felt honoured to be a spokesman for the army and meeting the army chief and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general was a matter of pride for him.

Puts 10 questions to PML-N supremo

Chief of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F Maulana Fazlur Rehman had said the institution in question should clarify whether or not Sheikh Rashid represented it as a spokesman.

During the press conference on Saturday, Mr Rashid said: “For instance, I have [just] disclosed something about the meetings [between politicians and the military leadership]. And if I reveal the telephonic data [about] such meetings, it will be the doomsday.”

“No one said I was wrong [about] whatever I said. I didn’t give a statement on behalf of anyone. I am a Jaanbaaz [diehard supporter] of the Pakistan Army,” he clarified. “They [the opposition parties] said that I am a spokesman for the institution. They all are junior to me. I advise them, not they.”

Mr Rashid said he was leaving 10 questions for the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif to respond by Monday. “How much money you [Nawaz] got from Osama bin Laden?; who gave Ajmal Kasab’s address to a foreign new agency?; how many calls you made to Narendra Modi from abroad?; were you afraid that if you called him from within Pakistan your calls will be leaked?; why don’t you talk about courts’ respect?; who was behind ‘Dawnleaks’?; how much money you got from Saif-ur-Rehman and spent it on electioneering?; where the plan of pelting NAB [Lahore] building with stones was made?; [would you] explain about character assassination of late Benazir Bhutto [ahead of the 1988 general election]?”

The minister reiterated that the PPP won’t quit the assemblies. He was of the view that the PML-N might split into three factions — N, S and Tota (parrot) leagues.

He said the prime minister had himself confirmed that if the opposition parties quit the assemblies, the government would just hold by-elections on the vacant seats.

Talking briefly about his department, he said the railways had decided to revive its timetable of trains from Oct 15. “From Oct 20, online booking of freight trains would start in Lahore,” he added.

He said he had issued a directive for removal of the corrupt PR officials and initiation of legal action against them.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2020