Upbeat: Govt not scared of PTI protest call,says Siddiqul Farooq

Says people of AJK have rejected ‘negative’ politics of PPP, PTI

Ali Usman July 24, 2016
Farooq said that the local governments would soon be made functional. “They will play an important role in serving people over the next two years,” he said. PHOTO: TARIQ HASSAN/EXPRESS

LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) government will give a free-hand to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to hold its protest demonstration, Evacuee Trust Property Board Chairman Siddiqul Farooq said on Sunday.

“The PTI’s rhetoric about rigging in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) elections is nothing unexpected. The AJK voters have rejected the negative politics of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the PTI,” he told The Express Tribune.

Farooq said that the PML-N had won most of the by-elections, the local government elections and now the AJK elections.

“Since Imran Khan’s sit-in, the PTI has lost all elections. Even their public gatherings have shrunk in size. People have clearly seen what they really are like. They have delivered their verdict [against the PTI] through the ballot,” he said.

Farooq said that the government had expressed its commitment to forming a commission to hold an inquiry into the Panama Papers accusations. “Treasury and Opposition benches were given equal representation in the committee formed to come up with terms of reference (TORs) for the commission. However, Imran Khan, is not interested in such a commission because several members of his own party are involved in off-shore companies,” he said.

Farooq said that Khan wanted to make it a political issue. “Even if a commission is formed, it may take some time to give its findings. The PPP was in power but had to ask the United Nations to hold an inquiry into Benazir Bhutto’s murder,” he said.

“The PM is still open to negotiation [on Panama Papers issue], but Imran Khan wants to dictate the terms. We are ready to accept legitimate demands, but will not accept dictation. They (PTI) are now trying to take a solo flight. They can do what they want and the government will just focus on serving the people,” he said.

“The government is on the right track. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects are on course. Operation Zarb-i-Azb is successfully underway. All economic indicators are positive. The performance of our stock exchange has been declared the best in Asia,” he said. To a question about the appointment of a new army chief, Farooq said: “It is my view that Gen Raheel Sharif is not interested in getting an extension. He, however, may be appointed chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee or on some other high-ranking position.”

Farooq said that the local governments would soon be made functional. “They will play an important role in serving people over the next two years,” he said.

Rejecting rumors of differences in the Sharif family, he said that everyone followed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “Some people even say that Nawaz Sharif will have to step down and then Ishaq Dar will take over the party. These are baseless rumors. The prime minister is fully fit after undergoing a heart surgery and will keep running the party. Before going for the surgery, he had told all family members that if anything happens, Shahbaz Sharif will be the head of the family. There are no differences.....people just keep circulating their ill-conceived wishes,” he said.

“People in Pakistan are supportive of democracy. Had this not been the case, hundreds of thousands of people would have taken to the streets when the controversial banners had been displayed. Instead, the person who arranged those has been arrested. This shows that the people want the democratic system to thrive,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2016.


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