ISLAMABAD – Information Minister Shibli Faraz on Wednesday reiterated that the government and Prime Minister Imran Khan did not have anything to do with the FIR against former premier Nawaz Sharif and 40 other PML-N leaders for “conspiring” against the state.
Responding to a question while speaking to the media in Karachi, he said: “We have nothing to do with the incident you are mentioning. Anyone in this country can get up and file an FIR against someone.
“The government is not [involved] in this. It is focused on working for the people and their welfare.”
The minister’s comments come days after Lahore police registered an FIR against Nawaz , his daughter Maryam Nawaz and other top PML-N leaders for sedition among other charges.
The opposition was quick to blame the government for what it perceived as another attempt at political victimisation. It also emerged that the complainant in the case had a criminal record and is allegedly the ruling PTI’s Labour Wing office-bearer.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider was also initially nominated in the case. However, the Punjab government said on Tuesday it had decided to strike off Haider’s name from the FIR but would proceed as per the law against the remaining people nominated in the case.
During today’s media talk, Faraz said that the purpose of the rallies announced by the opposition under the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) had one goal: to divert attention away from the corruption of their leaders and to pressurise the government into giving them relief.
“While we have managed to effectively deal with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, our economy has suffered. If an opposition party wants to start such a campaign during the current scenario, then it can’t be [a friend of the country].”
The minister added that opposition parties were the ones responsible for the ruin of state institutions and the economy. “We have been in power for two years. They spent 10 years in government.”
When asked about the recent war of words between the Centre and the Sindh government over Islamabad’s move to take over the twin islands of Bundal and Buddo through a presidential ordinance, he replied that the government was only trying to foster economic activity in the area.
“The industries of Sindh and Karachi will benefit from this [and] it will create employment. We are bringing in development and foreign investment to benefit Sindh’s people.” He added that those who will be affected by the development work will be compensated.
“The government will not do anything that is unconstitutional,” he added.
‘Stop distributing certificates of treason’
Shortly after the information minister’s media talk, PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi lashed out at the government for handing out “certificates of treason”.
“How will you fight for the Kashmir cause by declaring two former premiers, a former defence minister and three retired lieutenant generals traitors?”
He also advised the government to focus on solving the problems being faced by the people instead of distributing certificates of patriotism and treason. “That is why the PDM has been formed.”
He added that this was the first time the names of former premiers and the AJK prime minister had been included in such a case. He said that the recent revelations made by the former Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general were proof the premier wanted the opposition behind bars.
“Have the problems of the people ever been discussed during cabinet meetings? They talk about bringing Nawaz back, increasing drug prices and gas prices but not about solving the people’s problems.” He added that India was laughing at the way Pakistan was being ridiculed today.
Separately, newly appointed spokesperson for Nawaz and Maryam, Mohammad Zubair accused the prime minister of giving “direct instructions” that cases be filed against the opposition.
While speaking to media in Lahore outside the Shahdara police station, Zubair said: “We are not here to blame the SHO or even Usman Buzdar, because he doesn’t even know what’s going on in his own office. These are direct instructions from Imran Khan, the selected prime minsiter, that cases be filed.
He thought we would be scared. There are cases against me, against [Ataullah] Tarrar, we are here ourselves, if you want to arrest us, you can.”
The former Sindh governor told the government to “compete on political grounds” instead of “stopping down to lowly tactics”.
“When [the other side] has no argument left, that’s when such cases are filed.”