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April 7, 2019

Fawad asks Hamza: Surrender instead of using women as shield

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April 7, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry Saturday asked Hamza Shahbaz to surrender before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) instead of using family women and children as shield and hiding in his residence basement.

During a news conference here, with regard to efforts to apprehend Hamza, the minister charged that since Friday a drama was being staged in Model Town, Lahore and the central character of this drama was Hamza Shahbaz.

He added that the NAB officials wanted to arrest him in connection with multi-billion rupees money-laundering case, but he had locked himself from inside in a basement and was defying the authorities. Fawad made it clear that for Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari and Shahbaz Sharif, there were two options in the law: jail or plea bargain i.e. paying back the looted wealth of the nation. But, he noted, they had this innocent wish that none should question them about the looted money.

The minister maintained that the NAB had no problems and could force their entry inside to arrest Hamza, but they were not doing so while the federal agencies and the provincial authorities could also do the needful but were avoiding it and wanted him to surrender.

Fawad reminded Hamza how during the stint of his father Shahbaz Sharif, the Model Town incident had happened and innocent women and men were gunned down and 14 of them had expired. He made it clear that those who were shot dead were not wanted in any case like him.

The minister also referred to an ad, which the Sharifs had given in the media, inciting the people of Punjab to rise. It was time, he emphasised, the accused should not use politics as shield to cover up their crime.

“You have committed crime against the nation and now you want that none should question you since you are in politics. This will not happen; you will be held answerable for looting the nation’s wealth,” he asserted.

Fawad said that politics should be differentiated from crime and politicians need not use politics to cover their crime, calling on the media and opinion-makers to play a role in this regard.

He contended that until such mafias, who had brought Pakistan to the present situation, were not dealt with, the nation and the system would continue to suffer. He said this would not work now that whenever the court would summon you, you would resort to vandalism.

The minister said that Nawaz Sharif’s sons Hassan and Hussain would say, when summoned by the courts, they would call a ‘spade and spade’ but then they maintained they could not be questioned since they were British citizens. “Who knows, tomorrow, Hamza may say that he should not be touched, as he is a Cuban citizen,” he remarked.

He pointed out that Fazal Dad and Qasim were arrested and gave a statement to the NAB that they were involved in money laundering for the Sharif family. He wondered the Sharifs would now say, how could they be arrested, as there were different laws for them in Pakistan and now the Council of Islamic Ideology had also said that the handcuffing of the rich was against Islamic teachings. He said Islam called for equal application of the law for the rich and the poor.

“Unfortunately, there are different laws for the rich and the poor. The rich gets bail and then stays at home and in the court says he suffers from tension in jail. Prime Minister Imran Khan or the government has no personal grudge with anyone. There are allegations that Nawaz Sharif took away Rs300 billion abroad and now there is a case of money laundering, involving Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza worth about Rs100 billion,” he noted.

Now, he emphasised that there were two options for them; either to go to jail or opt for plea bargain and the NAB would decide on that and there was no third option. He insisted that the government had nothing to do when it was inferred that those facing allegations could apply for plea bargain, it was in fact a reference to the NAB law.

Commenting on the JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman, he alleged that the Maulana was resorting to moves, like those of Satan when he was thrown out of the Heaven. “He has gone berserk after having been shunted out of the Parliament. We have been bearing with him since 1988 while we have just eight months in the government and we are here to stay for full five years and have firmed up strategies to move forward,” he remarked.

On the government policies and measures, he said the fundamental changes introduced by the PTI government were taking the country to economic stability. He said that upon formation of the government, Prime Minister Imran Khan was left with no other option to visit one friendly country after the other for support, as during the last 10 years, PPP and PML-N governments had taken loans to the tune of $60 billion, whereas from 1947 to 2008, $37 billion were obtained from abroad and Islamabad was developed, Mangla and Tarbela dams, motorways built and the Army was revamped besides establishment of the naval bases. He said the nation was justified to ask the leadership of these two parties, as to how and where this money was spent and added quite obviously, it went to their pockets. He insisted the country would continue facing price increases and other economic challenges, if the looted money was not recovered. He explained the recovery of the looted amount would help bring rates of electricity and gas down and check inflation.

Fawad said the government would soon launch assets declaration scheme providing people one-time opportunity to become tax filers, as the two-thirds of the economy was undocumented.

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