'Jahangir nowhere to be seen': Khattak says PTI's numbers are full, denies reports of Tareen's comeback
Federal Minister for Defence Pervez Khattak on Thursday denied media reports of PTI stalwart Jahangir Tareen being brought back into the party's fold to take over responsibility for election candidates in Punjab.
The federal minister was addressing the media after a surprise inspection of the Peshawar BRT office along with National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan.
Responding to a question about the government's preparations for the upcoming Senate elections, Khattak denied reports of Tareen being given responsibility for currying favour with candidates in Punjab again.
"That is wrong propaganda, Jahangir Tareen is nowhere to be seen, our numbers [of candidates] are full and there will be no buying and selling [of candidates]," said Khattak, warning that if anyone else tried to engage in "buying and selling" of candidates, they would be "given a befitting response".
His remarks came after calls by some members of the PTI to bring Tareen back into the fold in a meeting of the parliamentary party of the ruling alliance led by the PTI at Parliament House on Wednesday.
A PTI leader from Faisalabad, Raja Riaz, had demanded in the meeting that Jahangir Tareen should be made a member of a committee to be formed to devise a plan for contesting the upcoming Senate elections. Information Minister Shibli Faraz had said of the demand that it was Riaz's "personal opinion".
Tareen — a close confidant of Prime Minister Imran Khan — was one of several bigwigs named in a sugar inquiry commission in 2020 — formed on the directives of the premier to probe the rise in the price of the commodity. Tareen had departed for London in June 2020 despite being a prime suspect in the sugar scam.
The PTI leader's departure had prompted backlash from the opposition. Meanwhile, the Federal Investigation Agency had sought details of Tareen’s assets in Pakistan and abroad, his bank transactions, especially transfer of money abroad, bank accounts of his family members and his employees and sugar-related transactions of his firm JDW.
Tareen returned to Pakistan in November last year after spending several months in the United Kingdom.
'Haven't taken one step to win over PDM'
Speaking about the 10-party opposition alliance, Khattak said, "Till today, we haven't taken one step to win over the PDM [Pakistan Democratic Movement], we don't want to win them over and nor have we ever tried." He made the remark in response to a question about his many efforts to come to an agreement with the PDM. "They have set out on a propaganda of lies to save themselves and we have come against these thieves."
He further said he had no case or reference against him in the National Accountability Bureau and "we are ready for [facing] accountability". Khattak said this was the usual propaganda and criticism of the opposition against him.
The Peshawar Bus Rapid Transit project, he said, was funded by the Asian Development Bank, which was also overseeing the majority of its operations. He clarified that the provincial government's role was limited to overseeing its progress and approving the final cheques for payment.