Opposition will ‘only speak to PM’ on COAS extension law: Ahsan Iqbal

Published: December 3, 2019
PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal addresses press conference outside the parliament house in Islamabad. PHOTO: ONLINE

PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal addresses press conference outside the parliament house in Islamabad. PHOTO: ONLINE

LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on Tuesday launched a pre-emptive attack on the government over the legislation on the extension to the chief of army staff’s tenure, accusing the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of intentionally escalating the situation.

PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal said that he was sensing a “sinister plan” by Prime Minister Imran Khan and his regime, who were intentionally creating friction with the opposition ahead of the crucial legislation.

Iqbal directed his tirade towards the government, blaming it for the seizures of the assets of PML-N President and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly, Shehbaz Sharif, ordered by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) earlier in the day.

“With concocted cases, motivated by vengeance against the PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif … the government is intentionally escalating tensions with the opposition to jeopardise the legislation on extension of the COAS,” Iqbal told reporters after a meeting of the joint opposition.

“This fresh wave of cases is another chapter of the vicious political victimisation campaign by [Prime Minister] Imran Niazi,” he added. “I’m sensing a sinister plan by Imran Niazi and his regime, who are intentionally creating friction with the opposition ahead of the crucial legislation on the extension.”

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Iqbal said NAB did not learn any lesson despite being “rebuked” by the Supreme Court over its plea against Shehbaz’s bail this morning. “The bureau has cooked up a new set of baseless allegations about his properties, which Shehbaz had already declared along with their money trail,” he added.

“This is why the chief justice, while rejecting their [NAB’s] petition for withdrawal of his [Shehbaz’s] bail, said that the case clearly showed that Shehbaz had actually acted extremely responsibly with prudence to ensure due process in the matter,” he added.

Talking about the opposition’s meeting, the PML-N secretary general said that it had been decided that they would not engage or holds negotiations with any ministers. “The opposition will only negotiate with the prime minister, if he chooses to engage with them,” he said.

“The joint opposition is united in its stance that this prime minister has compromised the honour and sanctity of national institutions and the country. He has directed his entire team to target the opposition in an effort to impede a possible consensus over matters of crucial national interest.”

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He stressed had the government been sincere on the matter it would not have taken the warpath. “We had thought the government would extend an olive branch to the opposition but it did exactly the opposite. This attitude suggests that the government is not serious in amending the Army Act.”

The PML-N leader said the prime minister had also shown non-serious attitude on the issue of appointing the chief election commissioner (CEC) as the National Assembly opposition leader had yet to receive a “positive message” from the prime minister.

He said the PML-N government during its tenure completed projects worth Rs3,200 billion, built over 2,000-kilometre roads, added a record 11,000 megawatts of electricity to the national grid and saved over Rs700 billion on public projects.

“With all the record at the PTI regime’s disposal, influence on accountability institutions and the worst vengeful persecution, they have failed to prove even one dime of corruption,” he said. “This is because the PML-N served the people with utmost honesty, devotion and transparency.

Barring the one case, decided by “compromised judge” Arshad Malik, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif too had been vindicated in all false cases forged by Imran Niazi and his corrupt regime,” Iqbal, the former planning minister claimed.

He pointed out that the NAB chairman talked about a “new wave of accountability” that would also hold the current government accountable, but added: “It appears that once against the opposition is being targeted to create friction before the COAS legislation.”

He said he too was being targeted over the Narowal stadium project which was started before the PML-N tenure but he finished it in the best possible way. He called for an across-the-board accountability and an inquiry into the destruction of the stadium.

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