• Says opposition leader will either go to jail or London
• Claims entire opposition leadership in touch with PTI
• Govt wants LHC to help bring Nawaz back
LAHORE: Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry has claimed that Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif is left with only two options: go to London or jail.
Speaking to the media on Friday, the minister called upon the courts to hear cases against Shehbaz Sharif on a day-to-day basis. He also asked the media to personally check and analyse money laundering evidence against Shehbaz.
Mr Chaudhry said the “disappointed” opposition did not even attend the parliament session, claiming that the entire leadership was in touch with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). He also took former defence minister Khwaja Asif to task for stating that Pakistan was facing serious threats to its sovereignty, adding that rather the PML-N leader used to serve and receive a salary from a Dubai-based company on an iqama.
While the opposition started talking about the supposed return of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, said Mr Chaudhry, it could not sustain its stance as the government stepped up and said it would bring Mr Sharif back home. “The government wants the Lahore High Court to take notice and bring Mr Sharif back,” he remarked.
The federal minister parried a question about the political implications of an all-important appointment the prime minister was set to make in 2022 and resorted to saying “for God’s sake” after a brief pause.
Mr Chaudhry also dodged a question on why the PTI government was using the colours of its party flag on the health card that was tantamount to misusing public money for party advertisement. He responded by asking whether the PTI should stop using the colour red at all.
The information minister insisted that Pakistan’s politics, defence and economy were stable and the national economy was growing at five per cent.
“Amendments to the Finance Act will help create a tax culture and the Rs343 billion sales tax imposed includes Rs71bn of tax and the remaining was refundable and adjustable,” he claimed. Mr Chaudhry also claimed that tax had been imposed on imported items only.
Following the amendments, Mr Chaudhry added, the dollar-rupee parity would improve and it will help break the cycle of price hike in the next three to four months. He said pressure on the public would also start subsiding that only swelled due to inflation of energy and international commodities. “Pakistan’s economic position will strengthen by August-September 2022.”
He lauded Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin for taking steps to save Pakistan’s local film and entertainment industry. The tax imposed on cinema equipment and film production had been withdrawn and only foreign content had been taxed to protect local artistes, he added.
Answering a question, the minister said the PTI government had so far returned $32 billion worth of debt in its three years in power and would take this amount to $55bn in the next two years. “If Pakistan is surviving today, it is because of Imran Khan and the PTI’s economic team,” Mr Chaudhry boasted.
He said every political party had the right to do politics, but the PPP and PML-N did not want to do national politics. “If Asif Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari want to come to Lahore, they can come,” he said, adding that the PPP’s public meeting could be held in a 250-yard house.
Responding to a question, the information minister said the local government elections would soon be held as final touches were being given to the LG law. He said a newly constituted Central Executive Committee of the PTI would decide the party’s mayor candidate for Lahore.
Mr Chaudhry paid tribute to the soldiers who were martyred in an operation against terrorists in the Mirali area of North Waziristan.
Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2022