KARACHI: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Thursday has said there is a connection between the recently-tabled controversial Finance Supplementary Bill 2021 in the parliament and this week’s report of the Election Commission of Pakistan, which, he claimed, “confirmed that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf received funding from foreign nationals and companies”.

He said that that the bill would provide “operational and financial autonomy” to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), and alleged that the PTI only wanted the central bank to become more powerful so that the party could get a ‘clean-chit’ from the SBP before “anything else emerged” tarnishing the image of the ruling party.

The theory was proposed by PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal, who during an interaction with the media outside the SBP building here also sought a role of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to dissociate Imran Khan from the PM office so that he could not influence the process of legislation in parliament. He said the bill was only introduced to make the SBP such a powerful institution that it [SBP] could give a clean-chit to the ruling party and hide its financial affairs after the foreign funding exposure.

The PML-N secretary general said that he came here outside the State Bank building only to express his solidarity and support for the national institution.

Thanks ISPR for ‘clearing PML-N’ on issue of deal regarding Nawaz’s return home

“This is the most crucial case of corruption in the history of Pakistan which has removed all the makeup of honesty worn by Imran Khan to expose his scary face,” he said in his brief talk before taking questions from journalists.

“So I appeal to the chief justice of Pakistan to please dissociate Imran Khan from the office of the prime minister. Otherwise, he would put every effort into this [Finance Supplementary Bill 2021] bill to get it passed from the parliament only to get a clean-chit in foreign funding case. This whole bill, we know, is going to surrender Pakistan’s sovereignty and once this is passed, even the parliament would not be able to question the SBP and its governor.”

He then referred to a number of proposed moves carried by the Finance Supplementary Bill 2021 which would ‘badly’ damage the national economy, put extra burden on the country’s population and would slow down the business growth across Pakistan.

He warned that the ‘mini-budget’ was a move to make the SBP more powerful institution than prime minister as once the bill became law, the national banking and money market regulator would only be answerable to international financial institutions and donors.

‘No deal’

Responding to a question about the fresh assertion from Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, who categorically denied that any ‘deal’ was being worked out for the return home of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Mr Iqbal ‘thanked’ the military leadership for making that loud and clear because PML-N’s consistent ‘denials’ in this regard had never succeeded in quashing such ‘rumours’.

“I should say thank you to the DG ISPR for making this clear,” he said.

“The PML-N has never believed in a deal, nor has it ever made an effort for such a move. Nawaz Sharif and his party are in deal with one and only entity — which is the people of Pakistan. We only want institutions to stay away from politics. These armed forces and intelligence institutions are our national assets. They should not be involved in any of such matter that could raise any doubt on their role.”

When asked about why ‘haste’ was shown by the PML-N to send this government packing despite the claims made by PML-N about democratic norms and that the PTI would itself face defeat in the next general elections because of its own ‘poor’ performance, the PML-N leader said it was only because of the national economy, which might suffer irreparable loss if this government continued any further.

“If we allowed Imran Khan’s government to complete its term, then there are strong fears that the country, its economy and socio-economic sector would be at the worst point and no one would be willing or ready to govern this country in that situation,” he added.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2022

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