PTI plans disqualification reference against Zardari

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ISLAMABAD: Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the Pakistan Teh­reek-i-Insaf (PTI) planned to file a disqualification reference in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari for concealing his assets.

“Mr Zardari has an apartment in the US but he failed to mention it in the statement of assets filed with the ECP and, therefore, is liable to be disqualified under Articles 62, 63 of the constitution,” Mr Chaudhry said at a press conference outside the Parliament House.

“The PTI has given the responsibility to Khurram Sherzaman, an MPA from Sindh, to file a reference in the ECP against Mr Zardari in a day or two.”

The PPP leader is a member of the National Assem­bly from NA-213, Shaheed Benazirabad, Sindh.

“Mr Zardari was required to declare that property under Articles 62 and 63, which he did not, therefore, he is not eligible to be a lawmaker,” the information minister said as he read out the address of the property. “Considering his reputation it is hard to believe that there would be only one apartment not acknowledged,” he added. “Scrutiny is under way in Sindh too to unearth his undeclared wealth.”

Mr Chaudhry said the PTI government was delivering on its promise of a ‘corruption-free Pakistan’ and reiterated that there was no future for Mr Zardari and Nawaz Sharif in politics.

“Investigation agencies have been given a free hand to investigate any politician, regardless of party affiliation, if their activities are suspicious,” he said.

In an apparent reference to PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif, the minister said corruption investigations were initiated against some political leaders at a time when their own parties were in power. “Only that the relevant departments were stopped from further inquiries,” he added.

“We have only provided independence to the relevant departments, and all these corrupt elements are becoming zero as cases are appearing against them,” the minister said.

In reply to a question about the property owned by Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda in the UK, he said Mr Vawda had declared the property in his statement of assets filed with the ECP.

“This fuss has been created by Abid Sher Ali of the PML-N through social media and one mainstream newspaper even carried the story without confirming it,” Mr Chaudhry said.

Asked about an ongoing inquiry against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, he said the National Accountability Bureau was investigating the matter.

He said the overall perception about Pakistan was changing and the world could see that the country’s system was becoming more transparent due to the PTI’s anti-corruption stance and, as a result, foreign companies were again putting their confidence in the country.

Fawad Chaudhry said, “The difference between Prime Minister Imran Khan and previous rulers is that the current policies are based on compassion on the pattern of the state of Madina.”

Referring to repatriation of Indian spy Hamid Nehal Ansari, he said his return was an example of the government’s compassion, and recalled that the premier had asked Indian journalists who visited Pakistan to attend the Kartarpur border crossing opening ceremony to urge their government to put an end to offences committed by the state forces against Kashmiri citizens in occupied Kashmir.

“We [Pakistan and India] can talk about the Kashmir issue but the injustices being committed against Kashmiri citizens must stop,” Mr Chaudhry said.

PPP reaction

In a rejoinder to the minister’s claim about Mr Zardari owning an apartment in the US, PPP Deputy Information Secretary Munawar Anjum said, “There was a character named Saif-ur-Rehman who used to claim similar things, but later he had to kneel down before Asif Ali Zardari and seek pardon”.

“The selected PM Imran Khan should ask his ministers to display caution while issuing such controversial statements that bring shame to the government,” the PPP leader said and asked: “How does Imran Khan’s sister own properties worth millions abroad?”

Mr Anjum said Fawad Chaudhry should answer questions about properties of Imran Khan’s sister if he was so keen to talk about accountability, adding that history was witness to the fact that whosoever accused PPP leadership of corruption had to face embarrassment.