Estranged Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Tareen dispelled on Wednesday reports of a split in the ruling party, even as he maintained that PTI lawmakers from “his group” would be raising their voices in the Punjab Assembly against what he called “acts of revenge” by the provincial government.
Tareen, who was addressing media persons outside the Lahore High Court (LHC), stressed that there was no forward bloc in the PTI, but admitted that the group he was part of had existed within the party for the past three months.
“[But] I am openly telling you that … we all are part of the PTI and will remain so,” he asserted.
Tareen, however, alleged that the Punjab government had been exacting revenge from the members of the group, using different pressure tactics such as transfers.
“We have decided to raise voice against it in the Punjab Assembly and have nominated Sardar Saeed Akbar Khan Niwani to lead this discussion in the assembly as our representative,” he added.
Recalling that Prime Minister Imran Khan had met the group and assured them that justice would be served and no revenge would be exacted, Tareen expressed confidence in the premier’s assurance.
“But the Punjab government also needs to stop [unjustified] action against our group and address our concerns,” Tareen said, reiterating that they would raise the issue in the provincial assembly as it was their constitutional right.
Tareen reiterated that there was no forward block in the PTI.
Reports of a split in the ruling party surfaced after Tareen, once a close friend to Prime Minister Imran Khan, announced on Tuesday the parliamentary leaders of "his group" — both in the National and the Punjab assemblies.
The announcement came at a dinner hosted by Tareen at his residence where, according to Raja Riaz, a member of the National Assembly from Faisalabad, four more MNAs and as many MPAs had joined the group. This, Raja Riaz claimed, had brought the total strength of the group close to 40.
Tareen had named Riaz the group’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly, and Niwani in the Punjab Assembly.
Earlier today, Tareen, along with son Ali Tareen, appeared before Additional Sessions Judge Hamid Hussain, who was hearing their pleas for interim bail in cases pertaining to money laundering and fraud.
As the hearing commenced, the court inquired about the progress of the probe against the accused from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
FIA Deputy Director Chand Ashraf told the court that the probe was under way and submitted an inquiry report.
Following that, Tareen’s counsel, Barrister Salman Safdar, informed the court that the FIA had sought records of Tareen’s transactions between 2008 and 2009.
He contended that his client had the records of all transactions, which would prove that he was not guilty.
The lawyer further stated that all members of Tareen’s group in the PTI had been cooperating with the FIA in the inquiry.
However, the FIA sought more time for the completion of the inquiry, at which the court warned of issuing show-cause notices if the inquiry wasn’t completed until the next hearing on May 31.
Separately, Tareen and his son appeared before a banking court at the hearing of their bail pleas in a fake bank accounts case.
Tareen's counsel told the court that the FIA had registered three cases against the PTI leader and a sessions court had directed it to complete the inquiry against his client in one of the cases by May 31.
He maintained that all the required records and the complete money trail had been submitted to the FIA in the fake accounts case.
At that, the court directed the FIA to complete the inquiry in the case at the earliest and extended the bail of the accused until May 31.
Later, Tareen, while speaking to the media claimed that none of the three FIRs registered against him were connected with the sugar scam.
“There is no mention of sugar mafia in any of the FIRs,” he said.
Tareen further stated that he had provided the complete money trail and the relevant documents to the FIA.
He also expressed hope that Senator Barrister Ali Zafar, who had been assigned the probe of the cases, would soon release his report.