Opposition wants chaos ahead of Senate polls: minister

Updated 29 Sep 2020

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Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has alleged that the opposition wants to create disturbance in the country ahead of the Senate elections in March. — APP/File
Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has alleged that the opposition wants to create disturbance in the country ahead of the Senate elections in March. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has alleged that the opposition wants to create disturbance in the country ahead of the Senate elections in March and challenged it to bring no-confidence motions against Prime Minister Imran Khan and National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser to test its real strength.

Speaking at a news conference here on Monday, the railways minister said the opposition knew that after the Senate’s elections in March 2021 Prime Minister Imran Khan would become powerful and would not be dependent on anyone except Allah. Therefore, he said, the opposition was all-out to create chaos in the country.

Though the minister kept on claiming that the opposition’s movement posed no threat to the government, he warned that “if democracy suffers any damage, then the enemies of CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) and foreign agents will be responsible for it,” he said, alleging that their (opposition’s) strings were being pulled from foreign countries and they do not want to see Imran Khan government becoming stable.”

Elections on half of the 104-member Senate seats are scheduled to be held in March next year and the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), due to its majority in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial assemblies, is expected to become the single largest party in the upper house of parliament where presently opposition is in a majority.

Sheikh Rashid challenges opposition parties to bring no-confidence motions against PM, NA speaker

The minister said the opposition members would never dare to resign from the parliament. He said the prime minister had already announced that the government would hold by-elections on the vacant seats.

“We are waiting for your (opposition’s) resignations. We will hold by-elections,” the minister said.

Mr Ahmed, who is the head of the Awami Muslim League (AML) and a lone member of the party in the National Assembly, challenged the opposition parties to stage a sit-in to know their worth. He also asked them to bring a no-trust motion against the speaker or the prime minister to see the result.

Mr Ahmed, who had leaked the news about the Sept 16 secret meeting of political leaders, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, with Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and chief of Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed a day after the opposition’s multi-party conference (MPC), criticised PML-N’s vice-president Maryam Nawaz for doing a news conference in Lahore after the arrest of Shahbaz Sharif by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and once again alleged that she was doing politics only to save her family and its wealth.

The minister said that the decisions against the Sharifs, including the Panama case, had been announced by able judges who had great respect in the eyes of masses.

Referring to the hard-hitting anti-establishment speech of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the opposition’s MPC and various statements of Maryam Nawaz, Mr Ahmed claimed that they had come out with this narrative after failing to get any relief from the government. He questioned as to why Mr Sharif and his daughter had remained silent for nearly one year.

Mr Ahmed, who is known for making predictions about political events, said that the cases against Shahbaz Sharif were of serious nature and he feared that these cases would bring an end to his politics.

In response to a question about indictment of former president Asif Zardari in the fake bank accounts case, the railways minister said that Mr Zardari’s arrest would make no difference in the country’s political scenario as he (Mr Zardari) kept on going in and coming out of jails “which is his permanent destination”.

The minister once again predicted a grand action against “the corrupt, thieves, dishonest and money launderers” by January 2021.

Referring to indirect attack on him by Maryam Nawaz in her press conference in Lahore, the minister warned her not to use “such a language against me. Otherwise I will do a postmortem and then she should not complain.”

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2020