PTI lawmakers back estranged leader

Published April 8, 2021
LAHORE: PTI’s estranged leader Jahangir Khan Tareen arriving at the accountability court on Wednesday.—Online
LAHORE: PTI’s estranged leader Jahangir Khan Tareen arriving at the accountability court on Wednesday.—Online

LAHORE: Amid a show of support from some Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf MPs from Punjab, estranged leader Jahangir Khan Tareen asked the ruling party leadership why he was being forced to become an enemy (of PTI).

Responding, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Shahzad Akbar said inquiry against Mr Tareen and his family “vividly explains that accountability is being done across the board”.

Talking to media after appearing before a special court for banking offences for the extension of his pre-arrest bail in two of the FIRs lodged by the Federal Investigation Agency in its probe into the sugar scandal, Tareen said his loyalty to the party was being tested despite his year-long silence over the inquiry.

“I remained silent for one year. What else is required to prove my loyalty to the party? I was a friend. Why am I being pushed towards enmity?” he asked.

Jahangir Tareen wonders why he is being compelled to become an enemy

In a significant political development, several MNAs and MPAs of PTI, including Raja Riaz, provincial minister Nauman Langrial, Ghulam Bibi Bharwana, Nazir Baloch, Suleman Naeem, Khurram Leghari, Aslam Bharwana, Ameer Muhammad Khan and Tahir Randhawa, accompanied Mr Tareen to the court to express solidarity with him.

He criticised the freezing of his and his son’s bank accounts at the initial stage of the case and reiterated his complaint of being singled out.

He said it was a high time that Prime Minister Imran Khan, party’s loyal leaders and voters expose the “conspirators”.

Tareen said he had been and would remain part of the PTI. “I cannot even think of parting ways with the party,” he maintained and said he wanted the PTI to answer his questions.

He also rejected rumours about his plan to meet former president Asif Ali Zardari.

Raja Riaz, a PTI MNA from Faisalabad, said some people around the prime minister had been hatching conspiracies against Tareen and urged the PM to intervene.

Riaz claimed that Tareen had played an instrumental role to ensure recent vote of confidence for PM Khan from the National Assembly. He demanded the prime minister to ensure that his loyal friend (Tareen) was not victimised.

Earlier, the court extended the bail of Tareen, his son Ali Tareen and others till April 10.

Later in the day, Shahzad Akbar addressed a press conference along with Special Assistant to the Chief Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and said Tareen’s group held 20 per cent stakes in the sugar market, with his JDW mills involved in Rs8 billion scam.

“No one, including Jahangir Tareen, is being pushed against the wall. The government is implementing its agenda of rule of law and accountability through a due process.”

Awan said the prime minister had given a clear message of accountability by beginning it from his close aide.

She dispelled the impression that the MNAs, MPAs and a provincial minister accompanying Tareen would be making any forward bloc or would cut a deal with any other party.

Akbar said following sugar commission’s report in May last year, the FBR, SECP, CCP and FIA had launched a due process and eventually some cases were sent to the FIA.

Besides JDW’s Rs8bn money laundering case, he said, the Sharif group was being investigated for Rs25bn money laundering. He said Shehbaz Sharif had stated that he did not know anything and his son Salman Shehbaz knew about it. He said Hamza Shehbaz, his company’s CFO and auditors had also been interrogated. Similarly, he said, questionnaires had been sent to the JDW’s CEO, CFO and directors. As many as 13 mills were under investigation, Akbar said and added, “No one is being singled out”.

He said all these inquiries had also revealed the case of speculative pricing of sugar that had so far led to registration of 10 FIRs.

Stating that increase of Re1 per kg in sugar price meant Rs5.5bn profit for sugar millers, Akbar said the sugar price had risen by Rs40 per kg. “The government has recovered Rs400bn from the abnormal-profiteers, while there were court stays on Rs60bn abnormal profit recovery,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2021

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