ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb has said that Pakistan was in safe hands as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had always dealt with economic crises in the past as well.
“We have dealt with such economic conditions always, when Nawaz Sharif came to power and we dealt with it recently in 2013 also,” she said in an exclusive interview with Al-Jazeera TV. “We have the experience; the intention and we have the will to put the country on an economic and development path and we are busy doing that.” Referring to Imran Khan, she said that only one person who is a ‘fascist and believes in violence and who incites the mobs’ was responsible for the present condition of Pakistan.” Replying to another question, she said the present regime inherited highest inflation and the country was at the verge of default which we saved. The minister said Imran Khan had signed an agreement with the IMF, and violated all the agreement conditions and when the PDM came in power, the IMF programme was suspended which it was renegotiating. Imran Khan had put the country at the risk of default and the present government had saved it, she added. Marriyum said, “We are negotiating with the IMF because the credibility of the country is at risk as Imran Khan’s legacy of economic destruction has played havoc.” The minister said the government had nothing to do with Imran Khan’s arrest, he was arrested by NAB according to the law where he was being investigated in a corruption case related to Al-Qadir University.
She said that many notices were sent by the NAB but Imran did not respond. The minister said that the NAB team went to Islamabad High Court where Imran Khan was appearing and arrested him and later the IHC declared that it was a legal and lawful arrest.
“It was also endorsed by the Accountability Court later so it was all done through NAB which arrested him and he had to answer which he did not of course and what happened we all saw”, she said.
Marriyum said that when he was in the government, the opposition leaders who used to ask questions, the first two rows in the Parliament were in death cells in jail. She said when the media used to ask questions, a leading media house owner was sent to jail and was silenced. She said that the report of “Reporters without Borders” had called Imran “a media predator” and this was his four years legacy.
The minister said that when Imran Khan lost power he was being questioned on different corruption cases under investigation in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
She said that there was a pattern that happened in the last 14 months, when police took a warrant by the court to Imran Khan at Zaman Park, he resorted to violence and used women and children as human shields to protect himself.
At Zaman Park, the police personnel were welcomed by petrol bombs, and then there was May 25 last year when he announced the long march and incited violence calling workers to come out on streets, bridges were broken, buildings, metro stations and buses were attacked, she added.
She said the judicial complex was attacked when a judge summoned him in a corruption case trial which was under investigation. “Same pattern happened and everything was broken including doors, windows and cameras of the judicial complex”, she maintained.
The minister said that Imran entered with a mob with Kalashnikovs and petrol bombs in the judicial complex. “So, there is continuity that whenever he is asked a question and called under investigation this is how he resorts to violence,” she added.
The minister said then there was that day when he was in the court, NAB arrested Imran Khan, same happened in the country for three days and this was the only person.
To a question, she said there was no miscalculation on behalf of the government and security agencies as we had a force which reacted very maturely because “we know it is just one person inciting violence and who has this mindset and a pattern of doing things and resorting to violence”. She said that the government was the state which constituted the judiciary, executive and the Parliament.
“When one pillar of the state tries to enforce law and order in the country and maintain the law and order in the country, the second pillar equally important and equally powerful does otherwise and facilitates and enables an environment where such activities are carried out across the country and ignores it and invites a person with allegation Rs60 billion of corruption and says it is really good to see you Mr Khan.”
She said Imran offered the then chief of army staff, a lifetime extension in closed doors and also met him in President House just to invite him to interfere in the process of vote of confidence against Imran Khan.
“Imran had no problem with Bajwa when he was there but when he did not listen to Imran Khan’s request, he was called out by Mr Khan because he lost power,” she added. She said the current chief of army staff was not willing to sit with Imran Khan in a room and interfere in the democratic process of the country.
She said additionally when the current army chief was then DG ISI, he went to Imran and informed him people in his government his wife, her friend and the ministers were involved in corruption and he provided evidence. Instead of taking action against the corrupt, Imran removed him from the post of DG ISI.
The minister said that Imran Khan knew that the current army chief was aware about his corruption and had the evidence. She opined that Imran believed that the COAS was playing a role and giving evidence to the government to file cases against Imran Khan but it was not true.
To a question, she said the references filed by FIA and NAB were in the courts where Imran Khan was not ready to face the law and defend himself. She said then there was a Tyrian case in Islamabad court, and not with the government.
Imran Khan was trying to develop the perception that the government was settling some political vendetta or making him a target of political victimisation which was contrary to the facts, she added.
If the government had wanted to target him, it would not have waited for 14 months, she said, adding “We could have arrested him just for the cipher thing, the joke that he was moving around with he would have been behind the bars.”
She said Imran Khan dissolved the KP and Punjab assemblies on what he called Mr Bajwa’s advice. On the contrary, the then chief minister of the Punjab, Pervaiz Elahi had categorically stated on television channel that he never wanted to dissolve the provincial assembly, the minister added.
Castigating Imran Khan, she said when he was not in power, he wanted the election should be held as per his desire. She said Imran’s diktats could not be followed as there was a Constitution and law which would definitely take its own course and the election would be held after completion of constitutional tenure.
She said during the last four years tenure of Imran, the opposition parties’ leadership was jailed on false cases and cases were never heard for years, for 8 months, 6 months and she was witness to all this saga.
The minister said “And Mr Khan did not go to the court but was invited by the court in a Mercedes sent by the Supreme Court. And Mr Khan when went there he was on physical remand and the Supreme Court gave him bail and said they were really happy to see him and then wished him good luck and under their custody sent him to police line guest house with 10 people to have chat with and sleep and then appear in the Islamabad High Court next day.”
Islamabad High Court, she opined under influence of the Supreme Court, gave him a bundle of bails in all the existing cases against him and ordered that he could not be arrested in any new cases. She said all the existing cases against Imran were shut down. Where does this happen, she asked.
“If you compare this with civil governments, organisations and countries and wherever around the world the global commonalities if you draw, this does not happen in any part of the world.”
Marriyum said she would not name the Supreme Court or judiciary as she wanted to clearly make a differentiation between the institution and the individuals. “There are individuals who we have questions about and there is general perception in the society that there are factions or sections of the Supreme Court who favours Imran Khan for may be personal reasons or professional reasons and that’s the perception, the legal community and experts are talking about not just government allies,” she added.
She recalled that Nawaz Sharif planned to launch the CPEC, Imran started a sit-in at the D-Chowk and today also when the government was fixing his economic legacy and destruction, he had resorted to violence by inciting violence.
The minister said that elections would be held after completion of the constitutional tenure of the assemblies as enshrined in the Constitution and election law of the country. “We are the political parties, we have the right to protest and our workers are disgruntled and angry to this bias of the Supreme Court towards Mr Khan and there was general perception that Imran is being favoured by individuals in the Supreme Court so the PDM workers will lodge protest against constitutional violations happening in the country,” she added.
To a question, she said there was no political reaction to Imran Khan’s arrest, instead violence and unrest was created in the country under a well thought out plan. “There was no political reaction to his arrest and if there was a political reaction to his arrest then we could have seen streets filled with people outside there,” she said.
Marriyum said there were different installations where Imran Khan placed people and regretfully, the entire PTI leadership was monitoring how many people reached Jinnah House in Corps Commander House in Lahore and metro bus bridges.
To a query, the minister said Imran Khan was inciting the people calling them on streets but it was the government which reacted to the situation prudently to avert violence in the country. The action taken by the government was aimed at protecting the citizens’ lives and properties, she added.
Marriyum lauded the law enforcement agencies which showed restraint against the violence of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) following the arrest of Imran Khan on May 9. She said Imran Khan resorted to violence whenever he was called under investigation in the cases being pursued against him for the corruption he committed during his government’s tenure.
To another query, she said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) Quaid Nawaz Sharif called out the institutions for their interference in politics and democracy. He also led a rally from Islamabad to Lahore when he was ousted from power, but not a single property was burnt at that time.
The minister said Imran Khan was a ‘fascist’ person who believed in violence and has been inciting violence to achieve his ulterior motives. The government fully knew how to deal with Imran Khan, she added.
To a question about blockade, she said the government had to take the step as Imran was instigating the people on violence though there was no political reaction to his arrest.
Responding to a query, she said the government reacted very prudently and very maturely and the police showed responsible restraint to stop violence and incitement of violence in the country. She asked when Nawaz Sharif was ousted as prime minister and he travelled from Islamabad to Lahore how many ambulances, installations, metros, hospitals and schools were burnt.