RAWALPINDI / LAHORE: Estranged leader of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Jehangir Khan Tareen and Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Wednesday downplayed the “rift” within the PTI even though the same widened the previous day with the announcement of parliamentary leaders of Tareen group in the National and Punjab assemblies as the former dispelled the notion of any forward bloc in the party while the latter termed the development a “routine matter”.
Mr Ahmed said that members of the (Tareen) group would vote for the government during the budget sessions of the National Assembly and Punjab Assembly.
“Tareen will support Prime Minister Imran Khan in the upcoming budget session. PTI is a big political party and such groupings in any party are a routine matter,” the minister said while talking to journalists during his visit to an under-construction hospital in Rawalpindi.
In Lahore, Jahangir Tareen said his group was still a “part of the PTI”. However, he accused the Punjab government of subjecting the members of his group to vindictive tactics.
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He was talking to the media outside the judicial complex after appearing before two courts for hearing of his pre-arrest bail applications in three first information reports relating to the sugar scam.
Talking about the cases against him, Mr Tareen said he was hopeful of a positive outcome since Prime Minister Khan had assured his supporters, in a meeting, that justice would be dispensed with. However, he claimed that the Punjab government was resorting to vindictive actions against the members of his group and had been pressurising them after they met the prime minister.
Explaining what he called vindictive actions, he said the government had started shuffling the bureaucrats considered favourite of the lawmakers in his group. He said the victimisation of his friends was against the policy of the prime minister.
The senior PTI leader said that decisions reached at Tuesday night’s dinner at his residence were the result of the pressure his parliamentarian friends had been facing at the hands of the provincial government. He said the lawmakers had only been nominated to raise their voices for the group in the provincial assembly.
Rejecting the impression that a group had been formed within the PTI at the dinner, Mr Tareen said his group already existed for three months. “The only difference is the nomination of the group’s representatives to voice our concerns in the assembly,” he said, adding that the media reporting blew up the event as if a forward bloc had been created.
He maintained that his group was with the PTI and would remain a part of it. “There are no cracks in the party nor will there be any,” he stressed.
Mr Tareen, once a close friend of PM Khan, urged the Punjab government to stop “vindictive” tactics against his group and resolve their issues amicably.
“They are your own MPAs. Their votes made you the chief minister,” he said without naming Usman Buzdar.
“Every individual is free to have his/her own opinion, but the group’s decision will be collective,” the sugar mogul responded when reminded that some members of his group had announced they would abstain from voting on the budgets of the federal and the provincial governments if the “vindictive” actions did not stop.
During his press talk, Sheikh Rashid said that the prime minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia was the most successful visit and now cooperation between two brotherly countries would further increase.
Responding to a question, he said the people of Pakistan would express solidarity with the Palestinian people on Friday. A gathering will also be held at Lal Haveli in Rawalpindi keeping in view the Covid-19 standard operating procedures.
He said Prime Minister Khan had directed them to hold public gatherings for the rights of innocent Palestinian who had become victim of Israel’s brutalities.
Talking about the mother and child hospital on Asghar Mall whose construction had started in 2006, the minister said work on the project was stopped in the previous tenure of PML-N government but the PTI government would give two mega projects as a gift to Rawalpindi – the hospital and Nullah Leh expressway.
“Work on the hospital had been stalled for years, and efforts started last year to complete the hospital’s construction. The out-patient department will become functional in six months. The hospital will have 400 beds,” he said.
The minister said that he was grateful to Dr. Faisal for coming to the hospital for the second time. He is also setting up a cancer department in this hospital.
He said that hospital and Nullah Leh expressway project would be completed in the tenure of the incumbent government.
He said he would talk to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Thursday (today) for commencement of work on Nullah Leh expressway project
SAPM Dr Sultan said tenders for procurement of hospital machinery had been opened and general surgery would also be arranged at the hospital.
Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2021