ISLAMABAD: The main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has alleged that the government is putting pressure on various institutions to arrest party president and opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif.
Speaking at a news conference at the National Press Club here on Tuesday, senior PML-N leader and former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq, information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb and joint secretary Attaullah Tarrar challenged the government and head of the Prime Minister’s Assets Recovery Unity (ARU) Shahzad Akbar to present proofs of corruption against the party leaders before courts and become a party to the defamation suit that had been filed by Mr Sharif against British newspaper Daily Mail for publishing a damaging and “false” report against him.
“Shahzad Akbar at the behest of (Prime Minister) Imran Khan is pressurising NAB (National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) to arrest Shahbaz Sharif,” said Ms Aurangzeb.
The PML-N’s information secretary asked Mr Akbar to make public the proofs against the arrested party leaders and Mr Sharif, instead of waving “meaningless papers” at press conferences to hide his “embarrassment and deceive the nation”.
Ms Aurangzeb declared Mr Akbar a “rented spokesperson” of the PTI regime, saying if he had any “semblance of courage and integrity”, he should stop wasting taxpayers’ money on press conferences and should present the proofs in courts.
“Why did the PTI regime end up in the sewerage drain of Ramzan Sugar Mill after claiming billions in corruption? Why did they need to blackmail and pressure judges into rulings against Nawaz Sharif, if they had such undeniable proofs of corruption against him? Why were they forced to use the age-old tool of political victimisation, the assets beyond means?” she asked.
Ms Aurangzeb alleged that the story in the Daily Mail had been planted by Mr Akbar at the behest of the “selected prime minister”.
She said a number of PML-N leaders like Hamza Sharif, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Salman Rafique, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Rana Sanaullah were behind the bars, but the government had failed to prove any corruption charges against them.
She slammed the PTI government for making “fake cases” to silence the PML-N leaders by locking them up behind bars. She said the case against Rana Sanaullah was a “blatant and shameful act” of enormous proportions. She dared the PTI to present the video of the narcotics being recovered from Mr Sanaullah’s car which they claimed to have seized.
She said even a government minister lied on the floor of the assembly regarding the allegations against Mr Sanaullah.
She pointed out that when Mr Sanaullah asked in the court about the video, they had nothing to say.
Quoting Interior Minister retired Brig Ijaz Shah that the spokespersons of the opposition leaders should also be arrested, she challenged the minister “to arrest her right now”.
Mr Sadiq said the present “regime” was trying to deceive the nation with false accusations to divert attention from its “glaring blunders” that had brought the country and its people to the brink of total disaster.
Showing the response letter written by the Daily Mail in response to the notice sent by Mr Sharif, the former speaker said the British publication had excused itself from submitting the reply in the designated 14-day period and had sought additional time.
Mr Sadiq said this plea for a delay could only mean that the newspaper did not have any plausible proof to back up its “fictitious story”.
He said the publication presented the story as a piece of investigative journalism and if that investigation was rooted in truth it would not need more than 24 hours to present evidence and prove the story.
According to Mr Sadiq, Mr Akbar said he was a barrister which was strange because he did not know anything about the UK’s legal system which merited a direct notice to the party which in turn triggered the legal suit.
The former speaker also criticised the functioning of parliament, saying that the speaker should not run the house on the dictation of the government.