PML-N assails govt’s ‘fresh attempt to put Shehbaz in jail’

Published December 13, 2021
PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif addresses a press conference in Lahore on Dec 4. — YouTube screengrab
PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif addresses a press conference in Lahore on Dec 4. — YouTube screengrab

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) declared on Sunday that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) would not be deployed at the time of general elections in 2023.

The main opposition party expressed fears the government was again trying to send Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif behind bars — this time through the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

On the other hand, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill said Mr Sharif should answer the queries raised by FIA in the Rs25 billion corruption case against him.

Speaking at a press conference, PML-N’s information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said: “Imran Khan does not care about people because he is not an elected PM; he believes the next elections will be held through EVMs and that he does not need people’s votes as he will win by rigging the machines. But the next elections will not be held through EVMs.”

Nawaz, Dar should return home to face court cases, says PM’s adviser

Asked about the basis of her claim that the next elections would not be held through EVMs, she said: “Imran Khan knows people will not vote for him, so elections will not be held through EVMs.”

The government seems to be adamant about introducing EVMs at the time of next elections and for the purpose it got the parliament to approve legislation regarding the use of EVMs in the polls. However, the opposition parties have expressed fears that the use of EVMs will pave the way to systematic rigging in the elections. The Election Commission of Pakistan has also objected to the use of EVMs in the polls.

Ms Aurangzeb alleged that Mr Khan’s “fresh witch-hunt against Mr Sharif through FIA” was just another attempt to imprison the opposition leader on fictitious charges so that he could not expose the government’s corruption and incompetence.

“Ever since being imposed on the country in 2018, the corrupt, cruel and incompetent Imran (Khan) has done nothing other than abusing government resources to monitor and persecute the PML-N leadership,” she said.

The PML-N spokesperson said that even after putting behind bars former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and other party leaders — including Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shehbaz, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, Khawaja Saad Rafiq and Rana Sanaullah — the government had failed miserably to prove “a single penny of corruption against them”. That’s why most of them had been granted bail by courts.

She claimed that Mr Khan’s “unholy” alliance with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had failed to keep Shehbaz behind bars because the government had failed to produce any evidence against the PML-N president.

“Imran Sahib, this drama should end now. When the NAB-Niazi nexus has failed, the same cases are being reopened by the FIA. The same questionnaires have cropped up again that were responded to by Mr Sharif three years ago,” she said.

The opposition lawmaker alleged that there was no accountability in cases involving the government’s wrongdoings, in flour, sugar, gas and Rawalpindi Ring Road scams. “The government either takes stay orders or hushes up its massive corruption in the Ring Road, Peshawar BRT, flour, sugar, electricity, gas and medicine (scandals),” she said.

The PML-N spokesperson said everybody should recall how the premier’s adviser Shahzad Akbar used to sit in the Press Information Department to “level fake allegations of corruption” at Mr Sharif. “Imran had formed a special cell to put Shehbaz Sharif in jail, but the courts granted him bail, compelling the NAB and the government to withdraw their petitions,” she added.

Ms Aurangzeb was of the view that the government had checked each and every bank account of the Sharif family and searched its every business and every company but “couldn’t prove any corruption” against them.

Responding to the PML-N spokesperson’s statement, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Dr Shahbaz Gill said the “thieves who remained in power for three decades are simply reaping what they have sown”.

He was of the opinion that people had full confidence in the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. “Marriyum Aurangzeb should give account of the money of her masters instead of waging a propaganda battle,” he said.

The “corrupt leaders who had plundered the national wealth” and went abroad for “bringing medicines” should return to the country and answer the questions put to them. “When will the then finance minister return?”

Both Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar should return and face the court cases against them, Dr Gill added.

Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2021

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