‘Certified thief’: PM Shehbaz castigates Imran after disqualification in Toshakhana case

Published October 22, 2022
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaks during a news conference on Saturday.—DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaks during a news conference on Saturday.—DawnNewsTV

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday castigated PTI Chairman Imran Khan, calling him a “certified thief” after the latter’s disqualification in the Toshakhana reference for making “false statements and incorrect declaration”.

He expressed the views while addressing a news conference in Lahore alongside Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar and adviser Attaullah Tarar.

Commenting on Imran’s disqualification, PM Shehbaz said that his predecessor had been proven to be a “certified liar and a thief”. However, he cautioned that this was not a moment of happiness, but one of “reflection”.

He alleged that Imran came into power after the “worst rigging”, adding that the PTI chief auctioned off state gifts after claiming the proceeds would go to the treasury.

“The nation would have saluted you if you had deposited money from selling state gifts in the treasury. I would’ve too despite being your political opponent,” he said, adding that Imran had disrespected Pakistan.

Comparing himself to Imran, PM Shehbaz said that he had once received a letter from the Cabinet Division about being able to buy a state gift after paying a certain amount.

“I answered back to the letter saying, ‘No, thank you’ and deposited [the gift] in the Toshakhana.”

He said state gifts were now being displayed at the Prime Minister House to dispel the impression that they go missing. “Now, I have them [displayed] in PM House so the people know who sold the gifts and pocketed the money.”

PM Shehbaz said that disrespecting the country in this manner was a “very serious thing”. There is nothing worse than a prime minister selling state gifts without having them valued and pocketing the cash, he said.

He reiterated that the person accusing others of being a thief had been proven a “certified thief”.

The prime minister alleged that Imran’s Banigala residence was constructed in violation of rules and regulations, which the PTI chief later regularised. “But he then went to Raiwind to demolish my mother’s home. This is the [extent] of his revenge.”

The premier also took exception to PTI leaders’ assertion that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif had “written” the electoral watchdog’s verdict against Imran. By that argument, did Imran pen the decision which led to Nawaz’s disqualification, he questioned.

FATF success

At the outset of his press conference, PM Shehbaz also congratulated Pakistan on its exit from the Financial Action Task Force’s so-called grey list.

“I congratulate the whole nation from the depths of my heart,” he said, adding that Pakistan had attained this success due to “collective efforts”. He noted that the country’s trade and foreign direct investment had suffered due to being on the list.

After our exit from the list, these problems will end, he said.

“This is not my success but Pakistan’s collective success,” he reiterated, thanking and congratulating those who worked day and night to achieve this result.

He also specifically congratulated Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and the Foreign Office officials who worked tirelessly in this regard.

“Similarly, I thank our allied parties that supported me and extended their cooperation.”

PM Shehbaz also had a few words of gratitude for Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, saying that his understanding and the commitment of his sub-divisions played a massive role in achieving this success.

The premier claimed that during the PTI government’s tenure, bills relating to the FATF were presented in parliament, which the then-opposition “fully supported”.

“Despite the pride of the government party and its leader, because it was a national matter […] we put all these things to one side and fully supported the legislation.

“We were mocked saying we were seeking a NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) […] but we bore it and did not compromise on Pakistan’s interest.”

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