While the Minister for Mines and Minerals Ziaullah Afridi was busy nursing health issues after his arrest, his former colleagues in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf took to some public shaming.
Addressing at a news conference at Peshawar Press Club on Friday, MPA Yasin Khalil said Afridi encouraged mining in Nowshera and Abbottabad despite a ban on the activity for the last few years. He added Afridi was involved in “mass corruption and missed his authority” on several occasions. “He transferred 14 senior officers without any reason and misused his authority,” he said.
Read: PTI's Ziaullah Afridi rushed to hospital due to 'severe chest pain'
Khalil said around 70 trucks with valuable cargo would be transported out of mines located in Abbottabad. Speaking about Nowshera, Khalil alleged about 22,000 tonnes of precious elements were taken out of mines in the district, thus causing losses worth billions to the government. The PTI leader said the commission was free of political interference.
“It is PTI’s agenda to end corruption and it will not even spare its own ministers or lawmakers,” he said. He added the minister could return to the party if he is innocent; otherwise there is no place for him in PTI.
Afridi was arrested on Thursday by the Ehtesab Commission (EC) in a corruption reference related to awarding mining contracts. An Ehtesab court remanded him into the custody of the commission for 13 days.
The political victim
Dubbing the arrest of his client political victimisation, Afridi’s legal counsel said on Friday that his client’s detention would be challenged before the Peshawar High Court.
Read: PTI minister Ziaullah Afridi remanded into Ehtesab’s custody
“The Ehtesab Commission is not a constitutional organisation and its very existence is arguable,” said counsel Mauzam Butt at the press club on Saturday.
The counsel was flanked by members of Afridi’s family and a large number of PTI activists from PK-1; the constituency which elected the minister to the provincial assembly.
“There is a conspiracy behind the arrest of Ziaullah as he was going after the mafia involved in illegal mining. We will challenge his arrest,” said Butt.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2015.