ISLAMABAD: Calling the attack on Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal ‘a matter of grave concern’, deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif has questioned why the Punjab Rangers chief distributed money among the Faizabad protesters after their agreement with the government in November last year.
Punjab Rangers Director General Major General Azhar Naveed Hayat Khan had distributed Rs1,000 each among the protesters of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) who had staged a sit-in in Islamabad against controversial changes in lawmakers’ oath with regard to the Finality of Prophethood.
A young man allegedly affiliated with the same religious group opened fire on Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Sunday during an election rally in his home constituency of Narowal in Shakargarh tehsil.
“An attack on the country’s interior minister is not an ordinary issue. I’m extremely concerned that the issue has reached to such an extent. The nation wants to know why money was distributed among the protestors of the religious party [whose worker allegedly attacked Ahsan],” Sharif said on Monday.
“This is what happens when Rs1,000 is distributed among such people. One must go to the bottom of why such an environment and mindset is prevailing in Pakistan,” he told journalist outside the accountability court in Islamabad.
Sharif also referred to several questions raised by Supreme Court’s Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Islamabad High Court’s Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui with regard to the Faizabad sit-in and said the judges’ questions had yet to be answered and must be answered.
“This country is ours. People are the real owners of Pakistan and they are not mazaras [serfs]. Enough is enough. People are being treated as serfs for the last 70 years and now they should struggle for a better future,” Sharif said, adding that decisions must be made according to the wishes of the people.
He said the people had rejected the decision of the five judges who disqualified him in the Panama Papers case. “The public mood is reflected in the by-elections,” he added.
Sharif also said that Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar should take notice of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman’s allegations that army helped the PML-N in the 2013 elections.
“[Justice] Saqib Nisar has taken notice of many things. He should also take notice of Imran Khan’s claim,” he said, adding, “Only Nawaz Sharif is on the target of everyone.”
The deposed premier said he did not want any medal but there should be some appreciation for making the country an atomic power, bringing the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and eradicating terrorism and load-shedding.
When asked if all these decisions were only made by him or they were collective decisions and every institution played its role, Sharif said, “Government makes policy and takes decision, and institutions only implement these decisions.”
He said he had spoken to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi about suspending the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ordinance before the elections till the new government was formed, but they had deferred the matter till a decision was made on the corruption references against him so that he was not accused of taking undue favour.
He said the references would have been decided within eight weeks instead of eight months if NAB had any proofs against him. “They [NAB] should tell us to find something for them,” he quipped.
The former PM also questioned the selection criteria of judges and the legislative procedure of the Supreme Judicial Council. “The parliament must play an effective role on this,” he said, alleging that accountability appears to be limited to politicians while other power centres walk scot-free.
He claimed that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders were being approached to change their loyalties. “Those committed to the party did not change their loyalties even when they were subjected to threats, coercion and cases by NAB,” he added.
The former PM feared that the litigation he was subjected to “is a clear indication for him to leave politics”. He quipped, “Every day you write that jail has been cleaned up… whose message do you deliver?”
To a question about Shehbaz Sharif, he said his brother had always supported his decisions and “is a loyal and devoted party worker”.
Responding to a question with regard to the ‘invisible forces’ and ‘alien’ he claims to be fighting against, he said, “Let the debate on the issue continue.”
After almost eight months, all witnesses in the NAB reference pertaining to Avenfield Apartments have recorded their statements and have also been cross-examined.
On Monday, Amjad Pervaiz – the counsel for Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (retd) Safdar – concluded his cross-examination of the prosecution’s last witness Imran Dogar, who is the NAB’s investigation officer in Avenfield Apartments reference.
Before him, Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris had also cross-examined Dogar.
During the cross-examination on Monday, Dogar admitted that none of the witnesses stated that either Maryam or Safdar aided, abetted or conspired in this particular matter. In addition, none of the witnesses even used the word Benamidar or associate for the couple.
Also, he revealed that he did not know how and when the number of pages of the Avenfield reference was increased from 240 to 299, adding that he did not either know who did it. He admitted that apart from Wajid Zia, the Panamagate Joint Investigation Team head, he did not include any member of the JIT in investigation.
Pervaiz and NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi would present arguments regarding section 342 (power to examine the accused) of the Criminal Procedure Code.