LAHORE: Opposition parties have teamed up to increase pressure on Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif to step down for alleged involvement in corruption and mismanagement of public funds.
Speaking at a meeting held on Thursday, opposition party leaders from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) announced that they would launch a campaign against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and CM Shehbaz from July 10.
The meeting was organised under the chairmanship of Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed, while Deputy Opposition Leader Sabtain Khan, JI’s Dr Waseem Akhtar, PML-Q’s Khadija Umar Farooqi, PPP’s Faiza Malik, PTI’s Shoaib Siddiqui, Dr Murad Raas and Saida Sohail Rana were in attendance.
The leaders strongly criticised the protocol given to the PM’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, on Wednesday when she appeared before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), constituted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to probe the Panama Papers case. They also lashed out at the ruling party – PML-N – for making false allegations against the judiciary, the apex court and the JIT.
The parliamentary leaders discussed Panama Papers case proceedings, corruption in provincial development projects and the ruling party’s criticisms of judiciary, military and the JIT at length. They then decided to raise these concerns in the upcoming session of the Punjab Assembly.
Adressing a press conference after the meeting, opposition leader Mahmoodur Rasheed said that if ruling party did not mend its attitude towards JIT members, opposition parties would launch an agitation campaign against the government from July 10 – the day on which final report of the JIT’s findings is expected to be made public.
He added the ruling party was trying to attack the apex court like it did in the 90s but they should keep in mind that opposition parties and the entire nation stands with the Supreme Court and the JIT. Rasheed said Nawaz should resign while the investigations were underway because the consecutive summons of the ruling family had tarnished the country’s image globally.
He added that CM Shehbaz was making false claims that there was no corruption in development projects, saying that the Metro Bus, Sasti Roti Scheme and Saaf Pani Project were a few examples of projects in which huge embezzlement of public funds and thus the failure of governance took place.
PTI has presented proof of corruption in these schemes but the chief minister never bothered to offer an explanation of the mismanagement and corruption, he said. Other parliamentary leaders also spoke at the press conference.
Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) held a protest rally against the government from the Lahore High Court to the Punjab Assembly. After LHCBA general house meeting, a large number of lawyers and PTI leaders, including Shoaib Siddiqui, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Afeef Siddiqui, Muhammad Ejaz Chaudhry and others, took to the streets and chanted slogans against the ruling party, especially the prime minister. Lawyers also demanded immediate resignation of the premier.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2017.