ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday dispelled the impression of a rift in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and said the party is united under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif.
Talking to reporters after appearing before an accountability court in connection with the LNG reference, he said there were no differences in the party over its narrative; Shehbaz Sharif, being president of the PML-N, takes decisions while Nawaz Sharif, being supreme leader, has the last word in decision-making.
He said the PML-N leadership was firm on its narrative of ‘vote ko izzat do’.
Mr Abbasi criticised the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for causing “irreparable loss to the country” and challenged the anti-graft watchdog’s chairman to explain his “tall claims of eradicating corruption”.
Says the party is firm on its narrative of ‘vote ko izzat do’
The PML-N leader said NAB had “become a silent spectator” over the “current government’s corruption” of billions of rupees.
Referring to the sugar scam in which Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s estranged leader Jahangir Khan Tareen was also nominated and which led to formation of a ‘like-minded’ group in ruling party, Mr Abbasi said that it was an irony that a senator was investigating plundering of Rs600 billion.
He also accused the federal government of attempting to rig the upcoming elections in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The former prime minister expressed surprise over a directive of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) to postpone Azad Kashmir’s elections. The NCOC had written a letter to the chief election commissioner, asking him to postpone the AJK elections for two months, he said.
Mr Abbasi alleged that the government machinery had “failed to force members of the AJK Legislative Assembly belonging to the PML-N to defect”. He warned the PTI government against ‘stealing’ the AJK elections and said doing so would be detrimental to Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir issue.
He said the PML-N had not made any effort for the return of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to the Pakistan Democratic Movement fold. He said that it was a breach of trust and the PPP should take confidence-building measures in this regard.
Earlier, Judge Azam Khan of the accountability court resumed the hearing of the LNG reference.
Mr Abbasi’s counsel Barrister Zafarullah Khan cross-examined prosecution witness Abdul Rasheed Jokhyo.
The witness stated that Rs752 billion had been allocated for LNG by July 2019.
Barrister Khan asked the witness if his client approved the project on his own or an appropriate forum did that.
The witness said the appropriate forum headed by the-then finance minister had approved the project.
The court adjourned the hearing till June 8.
Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2021