–PM says names of Jahangir Tareen and Khusro Bakhtiar did not surface in report on flour and sugar crisis
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman should be tried for treason for demanding the ouster of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.
“There should be a case under Article 6 against Maulana Fazl for his statement regarding the ousting of the government,” Imran said during an informal conversation with journalists.
Earlier this week, Fazl said that he had ended his Azadi sit-in because he had been given assurances that Prime Minister Imran will step down and elections will be held in three months. The JUI-F had staged a 13-day (from Nov 1 to 13, 2019) sit-in on Kashmir Road in Islamabad that came to an abrupt end as the party chief announced going for Plan B, blocking various major roads across the country.
Fazl did not say where the assurance came from, and analysts are of the view that throughout the JUI-F protest and dharna there was no indication that the PTI government was vulnerable or it may agree to the JUI-F’s demand for re-elections.
The premier, in his conversation, also commented on the countrywide shortage of wheat and sugar and revealed that there has been an investigation in the matter.
“The names of Jahangir Tareen and Khusro Bakhtiar did not crop up in the initial investigation,” he said. “Let’s see how the opposition reacts to this.”
The premier added that the initial report was incomplete and has been sent back with 20 questions, promising that the findings of the investigation will be disclosed before the public.
Prime Minister Imran said a proper mechanism was being put in place to ensure an adequate early warning system for detecting shortage of essential food items and no recurrence of price hike in future.
Opposition lawmakers have repeatedly demanded that senior PTI leaders Tareen and Bakhtiar be probed for the recent sugar crisis as they own mills.
Imran Khan said there were cartels in every sector of economy and pointed to the dismal performance of the Competition Commission of Pakistan, which was not accomplishing the tasks it was assigned. The government was going to fix it as unless it started working effectively, there could be no check on the cartels, which could raise the price of any commodity at will.
He was optimistic that his government would be able to tackle the issue, as he had no business interests. He gave the example of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, whose inefficient working led to the forced return of over 5,000 doctors from Saudi Arabia. “When we tried to change it the whole mafia of fake degrees and dubious medical colleges got activated against the government.”
The prime minister also criticised the media, saying, “I have suffered more media attacks in the past two years than anyone else.”
“I have never given Saudi Arabia or China’s example with regards to media,” he insisted. “I have always talked about Britain as an example in terms of media. Over there, if any [media house] publishes false news or a false allegation, it is shut down.”
He lamented that “even his statements were changed” by the media.
Imran said his government was also going to bring in necessary changes in the electoral laws of Senate so as to adopt the “show of hands” procedure for voting and do away with the current secret balloting system, which led to leveling of allegations of bribery.
“We had to show door to 20 of our MPAs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for just this reason, as we got information that they sold their votes,” Imran said and added that his government wanted to create a transparent system.
He said change was also in the offing in the electoral laws and use of modern biometric technology so that any losing party could not claim that it was the outcome of rigging. The opposition had been levelling baseless allegations of rigging, and were not really interested in finding a permanent solution to the issue, he added.
When asked about the differences in his party and with the allies, the prime minister questioned, “In which political party you do not find difference of opinion? Just see the situation in the two main opposition parties, or for that matter in any other political party in the world.”
The concerns of the allies had already been addressed, he said.