ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Saturday that former premier Imran Khan had become a threat to the state as he had continuously been making attempts to spread unrest and anarchy in the country.
“In the PTI meetings, the state institutions, including the judiciary, are being abused to spread unrest and anarchy, just because Imran Khan is no more in government,” she noted while addressing the media here.
Asked to comment on a series of statements made by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan regarding the ‘neutrals’ and how they did not opt to thwart the “foreign conspiracy against him”, she contended that the right to freedom of speech did not cover remarks against institutions or hate speech, and anyone doing so would be proceeded against according to the law.
The minister said, “When you attack the state institutions, then there will be legal action against you, and this is the government’s responsibility which it knows how to carry out”.
Marriyum said the brazen contempt for the law of the land and blatant violation of Pakistan’s Constitution could not be allowed to become a norm. Such actions should be dealt with according to the law in a manner that would serve as a deterrent. The PTI was already in the process of repeating the same actions in Punjab, which made decision to take action necessary, she stressed. She warned that corruption and incompetence could not be hidden under the conspiracy narrative by Imran Khan.
The minister said the worst damage Imran Khan inflicted on Pakistan was social degeneration through introduction of cussing, abuse, indecency and hooliganism as an essential part of country’s politics. She said the economic turmoil caused by the Imran Khan government would be fixed in near future, but the social degeneration would take a lot more time and a lot more effort to be rectified.
She said after it was confirmed that the no-trust motion would succeed against him, Imran Khan illegally gave subsidy on petrol for his vested political interests and to deceive the public. He neither took the federal cabinet nor the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) into confidence on the subsidy, leaving the national economy in a complete mess.
Replying to a question about meeting of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and other members of his delegation with PMLN supremo Nawaz Sharif in London, she said it was a private visit of the PMLN leaders, and its expenses were also not borne by the government. “Consultations were held on how to deal with inflation, which was left behind by the PTI government,” she explained.
She said the events surrounding the no-confidence vote were also discussed in the London meetings of the party and that a decision was made to deal with any elements that violate the law or the Constitution.
The minister said they had to make certain crucial decisions with collective wisdom and a strategic plan would be presented by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in his address to the nation very soon, and he would make announcements. She noted that the PM had to visit the UAE on a short notice for offering condolences on the passing way of former Emirati president Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
However, she said the prime minister would consult his allied political parties on the strategy and all decisions before making his address to the nation. When questioned about the possibility of early elections, she said the present setup was a coalition government; therefore, the decision was for all allied political parties to make collectively. At the moment, she noted, it was being strategised that how the burden of inflation could be reduced and how people’s confidence could be restored in the economy. She hoped the government would complete its constitutional term.
She asserted that Imran Khan would have to give answers to the questions with regard to the constitutional transgressions he had made from April 3 to April 11, and he had held NAB hostage and announcements were always made two days before making arrests by NAB. The minister held the Imran government responsible for inflation and claimed that when PMLN completed its term in 2018, inflation was at 3.9 per cent, and when the PTI government was sent packing, it stood at 13 per cent. Also, in 2018, food inflation was as low as 2.3 per cent, and afterwards it reached 15 per cent.
She continued that power tariff per unit in 2018 was Rs11 and during the next four years, it was increased to Rs24 per unit and likewise, DAP fertilizer in 2018 was sold for Rs2,400 per bag, and in the PTI regime, it reached Rs10,000. Dollar had reached Rs189 when the PTI government was ousted, and six million youth were rendered jobless in the last four years.
Referring to Imran’s speeches and statements, she said the more he would speak, the more he would expose himself before masses and would be questioned about his incompetence, incapability and corruption. “Neither we are fascist like you nor we are afraid of your speeches,” Marriyum told Imran adding that the more he would hurl abuses and tell lies, it would benefit the PMLN government.
She asked Imran Khan in what capacity he was using Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government’s helicopter for the PTI public meetings. She regretted that the one who spent Rs1 billion on using helicopter as premier was questioning others, but it was time for him to give answers about his four-year bad governance.
She regretted that former premier Imran Khan weakened Pakistan’s position in the comity of nations, damaged relations with friendly countries, destroyed the foreign policy, continuously lied to the youth of Pakistan and put the people of Pakistan on verge of financial disaster during his four-year rule.
About the Silakot incident, she said, “We are not scared of the speeches of Imran Khan, as these are only exposing his own mindset to the public. The PTI was informed on May 9 that the Christian community did not want to give the church ground in Sialkot for a public gathering, as there has been no such political activity there before, being a place for religious activities only”.
She said that following the expression of reservation by the Christian community, an alternative place for the public gathering was offered to the PTI, but it continued with its fascist tactics and this led to the Christian community’s protest on Friday night and Saturday morning. “It is our duty to protect the rights of Christians. The PTI should also have shown respect to the rights and sentiments of Christians, but it did not,” she regretted.
Marriyum said this issue was not between the government and Imran Khan, it was between the Christian community of Pakistan and Imran-led PTI. The DC Sialkot had repeatedly told the PTI that the Christian community had refused to allow any political activity at the ground. The DC office told the PTI to change their location, which was refused because of the fascist mindset of Imran. She said Imran Khan was desperate to create a situation where he could claim that his public meetings were being obstructed by the government, for which he and his party were going to insane lengths of telling lies. Neither the federal government, nor the Punjab government or Rana Sanaullah had anything to do with this. This was purely about the protest by the Christian community.
However, she clarified that Rana Sanaullah would act when Imran Khan and his cronies would give a call for a blood-loathed march. “I repeat, no matter what Imran says, no matter what he does, no matter how many lies, abuse, hooliganism, bullying he does, elections will be held on their scheduled time and this government will complete the tenure,” she stressed.
She said that the youth of Pakistan must remember that Imran was the one who snatched away jobs and livelihoods from six million youth of Pakistan. They must remember the plethora of lies by Imran.
She said Imran had become so ruthless in his draconian and autocratic designs that he blatantly admitted that he used NAB as an instrument of his political victimization. It had been nine years of PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and nine years of NAB shutdown; nine years of Peshawar Metro’s potholes and burning buses; nine years of corruption in the so-called billion-tree tsunami and nine years of evading the Malam Jabba case. The Helicopter Case, the Malam Jabba case, and others were still fresh in the memory of the nation, she said.
She said this entire facade of rebellion was just because Imran wants to get back in power where he was having the time of his life, making billions through his front persons while throwing his political opponents behind bars, arm-twisting media houses to force censorship, and getting journalists shot and abducted who refused to bow down to his commands.
She told the media that the government had decided to take action against the violation of the Constitution by PTI government, the deputy speaker and all others who were involved, because failure to punish such blatant abrogation of the Constitution would equate to encouraging such behaviour in the future.
She said this and other decisions will be taken in consensus with the allied parties of the government. She also told the media that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will address the nation on this decision to take action against the violation of the Constitution. She said PM Shehbaz, in his address, would also talk about NAB and matters related to its past and present. She also warned that the PMLN believed in freedom of speech more than anyone else, but if anyone would malign national institutions, they would be dealt with according to the law.