ISLAMABAD: PTI chief Imran Khan lashed out at National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq for his alleged partisan conduct in quashing references against the prime minister in the Panamagate scandal but approving those against the Mianwali native.
Sadiq rejected four references seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for concealing assets. Leaked documents from the Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama in April showed several world leaders as well as the premier’s three children owning at least three offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.
Instead, the NA speaker approved a reference moved by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz against Imran for “setting up an offshore company and concealing assets.”
Addressing the media outside his Bani Gala home and later after landing in Karachi, the PTI chief said the speaker was no longer bipartisan and had instead made parliament controversial.
Imran said that Sadiq, who became a member of parliament and speaker after twice rigging elections, had made his resolve stronger by sending the reference to the election authorities.
“Nawaz Sharif is eligible while the person who brought home money after working abroad for 18 years is ineligible?” Imran asked.
He added that by rejecting the reference, an impression was being given that the country’s institutions are standing with tyrants against a public that was looking for justice and shows that the system in Pakistan protects tyrants and looters.
Later while addressing a demonstration by workers of Pakistan Steel Mills, who have been on strike for the past 35 days owing to non-payment of their salaries, Imran said he had opted for street protests as a last resort after justice had been denied from every quarter.
“On Panama leaks we tried our level best, approached all institutions to get justice but were disappointed by all,” Imran told scores of workers in Karachi as he invited them to join his accountability rally.
The PTI chief arrived in Karachi on Monday for a two-day visit. He is expected to address a large rally in Nishtar Park today (Tuesday).
Referring to the dire straits of the government-run steel mills, Imran pointed out that till 2007-8, it was working well and was one of the country’s biggest assets. Since then, he lamented, it had fallen prey to government neglect and nepotism of the rulers.
“Why can’t the prime minister run this steel mill while his own mills are generating billions in profits?” Imran asked while criticising current and past rulers for looting the state-run organisation.
The PTI chief also opposed privatising the state-run institution, stating that there were other means to improve its situation.
“Hospitals in Khyber-PakhtunKhwa were improved just by changing the management. We could have privatised them but we chose to bring a change in the management and everyone has appreciated our efforts,” he said adding that a plan to revive the mill will be presented during Tuesday’s rally at Nishtar Park.
Imran demanded that the government issue salaries of the workers before Eid and undertake measures to revive the mill.
Referring to the street protest of the steel mill workers, Imran said just like them he was fighting for accountability of the rulers. He vowed to raise the voice of every oppressed Pakistani and invited them to join his march to Raiwind.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2016.