–Mashhood offers clarification, denies reports of a ‘deal’
–Info minister asks media to avoid giving hype to his statement
–PML-N distances itself from his statement, seeks clarification
LAHORE: Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Asif Ghafoor on Tuesday said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Rana Mashhood’s claim of forming a government in Punjab in the next two months is “baseless and regrettable”.
In a statement, the ISPR DG said, “Attribution of an obvious vested statement by Rana Mashhood is baseless and regrettable. Such irresponsible expressions are detrimental to stability in the country.”
Earlier, while speaking to a local news channel, Mashhood had claimed that the next two months will be crucial because of the upcoming by-elections and his party will be able to form a government in Punjab.
“Everyone knows how a majority was given to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The party did not fulfil the promises it made with the independent candidates, leading them to being shamed in their respective constituencies,” he said.
Talking about the pre- and post-election perception of PTI, he said, “The party that had won the general election was thought to be a horse but it turned out to be a mule.”
“It is now strongly felt that Shehbaz would have been a better choice for premiership because he would have handled things in a better way,” he said.
He also talked about PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif’s role in restoring the strained relations between his party and the establishment.
Talking about former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz, the PML-N leader said that the duo’s tone would continue to remain harsh until “things are fully settled”.
MASHHOOD CLARIFIES HIS STATEMENT:
Later, the PML-N leader offered clarification for his statement and denied an earlier statement which was attributed to him regarding a deal in the works between his party and the establishment to rise to power in Punjab.
“We have always maintained a principled stance and have been against any deals. Yes, Shehbaz wanted to work on a new charter to work with the state institutions but that does not mean that he struck a deal with the establishment,” he said, adding that in light of the current situation, everyone can work together and find a way.
Explaining his prediction of PTI government’s fall from power, he said that it stemmed from the conversations between different departments, adding that there had been a change of heart in those circles and it strongly suggested that PML-N could rise to power in Punjab after the by-elections.
Mashhood further said that Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s rule would end through “either a public or judicial decision” in the next few months.
MEDIA ASKED TO IGNORE MASHHOOD’S STATEMENT:
Following Mashhood’s claim, State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry asked the media to avoid giving unnecessary hype to Mashhood’s statement because he had no standing to make such a claim.
Separately, Punjab Minister for Information Fayyazul Hassan Chohan said that Mashhood was trying to defame the establishment on Shehbaz’s directives. He further said that the PML-N leader is trying to make the election controversial, adding that the people had delegated power to Prime Minister Imran Khan through their votes.
Taking a jibe at Shehbaz, he said that no ruler is as corrupt and ineligible as the PML-N president and mentioned the corruption allegations in Orange Line Train and Metro Bus projects as a question mark on his honesty. He advised Mashhood to stop trying to portray a “corrupt” man as a “political custodian”.
PML-N DISTANCES ITSELF:
As soon as the controversy stirred, PML-N leaders Marriyum Aurangzeb, Rana Sanaullah and Khawaja Asif distanced themselves from Mashhood’s statement.
Marriyum said that Mashhood’s statement reflected his personal opinion and has nothing to do with the party or its leadership, adding that the party has sought an explanation from him as well. Asif shared the same sentiments separately and said that his remarks were made in his individual capacity.
Former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah also disowned Mashhood’s statement. He said that the matter had not been discussed at the party level, therefore, Mashhood’s remarks could not be attributed to the party.
“PML-N is not in favour of breaking government and forming its own through the support of a non-democratic force. PML-N believes the power of the vote, democratic institutions and civilian supremacy,” he said.