–Firdous says traders won’t be able to blackmail govt into submission
–Says PTI stands by journalists who promote ‘national interest’
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government will now go after former defence minister Khawaja Asif for holding an Iqama during his tenure as a federal minister.
Speaking to reporters, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the federal cabinet on Saturday approved investigations against Asif to ‘find out’ how a “guarantor of national security became a national security risk himself”.
She said that the cabinet has referred the case to the interior ministry for investigation.
Referring to the affidavit submitted by Accountability Judge Arshad Malik she said his statement concerning “bribes and intimidation by the Sharif family” were ‘eye-opener’.
On the question of the strike by traders all over the country, she said that tax reforms are necessary and it should be implemented all over the country. “However, traders having a political agenda would be dealt with accordingly,” she said, adding the government won’t be “blackmailed” by anyone.
She said out of 20,000 traders of Anarkali, only 600 pay taxes. The country should no more be run through borrowing, she added. The traders’ wing of some political parties were compelling the businessmen to observe strike.
Speaking about the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), she said the competition was going on among the PML-N leaders to show their obedience to the Zil-e-Subhani (Shadow of God) of Jati Umra by holding workers conventions.
Firdous said the real forum to prove one’s innocence was the court but the PML-N leadership was reluctant to approach the same for remedy.
She said the incumbent government fully believed in freedom of expression as evident from the fact that journalists were writing whatever they wanted. Similarly, there was no restriction for anchor persons to discuss any matter on air, she added.
She, however, said the code of conduct being pursued by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) had not been framed by the present government. She said the government stood by the journalists, who were promoting the ‘national interest’.
She said the attention of people was being diverted by holding workers conventions. Whosoever was summoned by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), he/she started making a hue and cry, she added. Firdous said the war of succession had also started at Jati Umra.
She said that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had wasted record public money on his useless foreign tours, calling him the ‘puppet prime minister’ of Nawaz Sharif.
A lot of public money was given to the near and dear ones as tips besides TADAs and having lavish meals on government expense by the past rulers, she alleged. Firdous said Abbasi, during his brief tenure as prime minister, had undertaken 19 foreign trips with the entourage of 214 people costing Rs 259.59 million to the public exchequer.
She said in 2017 Shahid Abbasi accompanied with 114 people went abroad nine times while in 2018, he undertook 10 foreign trips with 105 people and remained outside the country for 26 days.
A sum of Rs 5.48 million was wasted on giving tips to his courtiers, she alleged. Contrary to his claims of eating homemade meals, Shahid Abbasi as the prime minister has spent Rs 8.99 million on food, she added.
Likewise, Firdous claimed that Abbasi had spent Rs 37.73 million during his three tours of the United Kingdom besides billions of rupees on his visits to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Afghanistan.