PTI accuses govt of U-turn on Umrah delegation issue

Published April 28, 2022
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf senior vice president Fawad Chaudhry (L) speaks at a press conference alongside party leaders Usman Dar (R) and Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari (not pictured) in Islamabad on Wednesday. — INP
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf senior vice president Fawad Chaudhry (L) speaks at a press conference alongside party leaders Usman Dar (R) and Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari (not pictured) in Islamabad on Wednesday. — INP

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has said that the coalition government led by PML-N has taken a U-turn over the number of people going to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah.

Speaking at a press conference along with PTI leaders Usman Dar and Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari, party’s senior vice president Fawad Chaudhry said that because of social media and mainstream media pressure, the government had to take a U-turn over the Umrah issue.

“They are going to perform Umrah with the hard-earned money paid in taxes by the people of the country to the government,” he said.

“Initially Miss-disinformation [Marriyum Aurangzeb] claimed that no plane has been booked for Umrah of the PM and other members of his delegation, but a letter written to the Pakistan International Airlines confirmed that the government has booked its one plane and it will be paying $60,000 daily from the national exchequer to the airline for the purpose. Besides, 84 people will be going to Saudi Arabia as part of the government delegation which includes drivers, cooks and even an Aloo Gosht expert apart from three massage experts,” Mr Chaudhry said.

Federal Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb recently claimed that the delegation of PM going to Saudi Arabia consisted of only 13 members.

Mr Fawad said that leaders of Balochistan National Party and Awami National Party had refused to be part of the Umrah delegation saying Umrah should be performed from the own money of those going instead of the national exchequer and the stand of these two leaders had gone viral on social media as well as the mainstream media, forcing the government to immediately take the U-turn on the issue.

Talking about the law and order situation in the country, the former PTI minister said that lawlessness had been increasing in the country, but the entire government was focused on making Hamza Shahbaz the Chief Minister of Punjab.

Discussing the issue of load-shedding, the PTI leader claimed that the two LNG agreements signed by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) had not been fulfilled and because of this the LNG could not be imported in the country.

“Apart from this, the gas extracted in the country should have been diverted towards power plants to end load-shedding, but even that step was not taken by the new government and it even failed to pay for the imported coal despite the fact that the PTI government was about to pay additional Rs50 billion to coal-fired power plants as the price of imported coal has gone up and stocks of furnace oil are also depleting,” Mr Chaudhry said.

Talking about shortage of diesel, the PTI leader said that it was due to conflicting statements of ministers of the new government.

“One minister says that price of diesel will not be increased, but the next day another minister says price of diesel will go up. The PTI government had built the biggest stock of diesel over the last decade in the country, but now hording of diesel has begun. Besides, sugar and ghee prices have also gone up; flour’s price has been increased by Rs50 and fertiliser’s bag is now being sold at Rs500 higher rate than its original price,” he said.

He said that lawlessness had been increasing across the country as the entire government was focused only on one thing and that was to make Hamza Shahbaz the Chief Minister of Punjab.

He also accused the judiciary of having gone soft on Hamza Shehbaz as on Wednesday there were two cases, but he (Hamza) got relief in both the cases.

“Pakistan’s problem is not to make Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz Prime Minister and Chief Minister. This is a temporary government and it could not take permanent decisions. Today, a charge-sheet had to be moved against Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz Sharif over charges of Rs40 billion money laundering, but their lawyer and the Federal Investigation Agency representative said that the prime minister had been attending a meeting of the federal cabinet so the date of hearing should be extended,” he said.

“There were hearing of two cases on Wednesday but in one case the next date of hearing was given and in the second case it was said that oath-taking ceremony of Hamza Shahbaz will be held. That is why our judiciary has been ranked on the 130th position in the world ranking of the judiciary. There is now realisation in the people of Pakistan that the country cannot move forward in this way,” the PTI leader said.

He said that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s grandson [Bilawal] had become the foreign minister in the cabinet of Ziaul Haq’s younger son.

Another PTI leader Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari, speaking on the occasion, said the PTI government had given the right of vote to overseas Pakistanis, but the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had held up the process and it had taken no step so far to finalise the issue.

“The ECP should not delay the matter as it is an issue of around 10 million overseas Pakistanis who send remittances to Pakistan. The registration and voter lists of overseas Pakistanis should also be prepared before elections,” he said.

In reply to a question about the Lahore High Court’s order to Governor of Punjab to ensure oath-taking of Hamza Shehbaz, Mr Chaudhry said that an intra-court appeal had been filed to stop that move.

“The governor of Punjab has informed the President of Pakistan and provided the evidence that the election of the chief minister was not transparent. Mr Hamza Shehbaz does not hold majority in the Punjab Assembly and the President can direct the Punjab government anytime to take the vote of confidence to prove its majority,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2022

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