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April 8, 2021

Don’t make a friend an enemy: Tareen

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April 8, 2021

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The Punjab government has reportedly issued a list of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) members who were in contact with the party's former secretary-general Jahangir Khan Tareen.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was set to hand over the list to Prime Minister Imran Khan, as he had a Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting with him. According to Geo News, the prime minister will make the final decision on the fate of the PTI members, the sources said.

Meanwhile, PTI MNA Raja Riaz, who came to the banking court with Jahangir Tareen, said the former secretary-general had played an "important role" in getting Prime Minister Imran Khan the vote of confidence. Raja Riaz said Tareen had "formed the Punjab government and (due to his absence) the PTI was suffering". Punjab lawmakers Lala Tahir Randhawa, Raja Riaz, Noman Langrial, Salman Naeem, Ghulam Bibi Bharwana, Khurram Leghari and Abdul Hai Dasti showed up to support Tareen at his hearing.

Earlier in the day, Jahangir Tareen said that his loyalty to Prime Minister Imran Khan was being tested, but he is not parting ways with the PTI.

Tareen was speaking to the media after he arrived at the banking court to attend his bail hearing.

"Not one, not two, but three FIRs have been registered against me," he said. "Out of the 80 sugar mill owners, all they could see was Jahangir Tareen," he said, questioning why he was being subjected to "revenge". The PTI leader said his "loyalty is being tested". He added that an inquiry against him, relating to the sugar crisis, has been going on for the last 12 months.

Tareen said he is "asking for justice from PTI, adding that he is a friend, but is being "pushed towards enmity".

He lamented that his accounts as well as those belonging to his son, Ali Tareen, had been frozen. "Why have my accounts been frozen? Who is doing this? Who benefits from this?" he asked.

In response to a question, Tareen said it was time to expose those involved in a conspiracy against him. He said Imran Khan can expose the person who was hell-bent on exacting revenge against him.

When a reporter asked Tareen whether he was about to meet former president and PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari, he said the reports were not true.

Meanwhile, the FIA has put the names of three officials of Jahangir Tareen’s sugar mills JDW in blacklist. FIA sources said these three officials now cannot leave the country. The name of the JDW CEO Rana Naseem has also been blacklisted. Sources said three accounts of JDW, Tareen Farm System and Tareen Dairy Farm have also been frozen. The accounts of JDW employees Zaman Khan and Farasat Khan have also been frozen. Sources said both these employees were allegedly involved in betting on sugar price.

Meanwhile, Adviser to PM on Accountability and Interior Shahzad Akbar said there are no friends or foes when it comes to accountability.

He said that sugar ex-mill price was set at Rs80 per kg and retail price as Rs85 on the basis of data provided by the private sector sugar mills bodies.

The adviser said that ex-mill price was determined on the basis of two cost factors -- price of sugarcane purchased to produce sugar, and rate of recovery, adding that sugar ex-mill price was set as per the data given by the private sector under which the sugarcane price was Rs265 per 40kg with 9.3 percent recovery rate.

“If the sugar price was set on the basis of government data, the sugarcane price could be Rs259 per 40kg along with 10.4 percent recovery rate,” he added.

Addressing a press conference along with Special Assistant to Chief Minister Punjab Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan at Directorate General Public Relations Punjab, he said that sugar mills association had approached the Lahore High Court (LHC) pertaining to the ex-mill price, adding that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had given verdicts in past that the government could set sugar prices besides ensuring its supply chain.

Shahzad Akbar said that sugar production process got completed within four months so its input cost should remain static, but the sugar mafia was involved in fluctuating sugar prices by forward sales and credit line. He said the sugar mafia earns about Rs5.5 billion with an increase of a single rupee in sugar price.

On the report and findings of sugar commission 2020, the federal government had taken administrative, legislative and penal steps under which the cases of giant sugar mills were sent to FBR, FIA, NAB, Anti-Corruption and others to take action against those who were involved in artificial increase in sugar price and shortage of supply.

Shahzad Akbar said that nine sugar mills’ groups, whose accumulated production was above 50 percent of total sugar production, were selected as representative sample, adding that JDW sugar group contributed about 20 percent in total sugar production in the country so the process of accountability was ensured across the board.

To a question, Shahzad Akbar said that after action of the FBR, the SECP and other institutions on sugar commission report, all the major sugar producing groups were probed about artificial price hike, adding that FIRs were registered against some sugar mills groups while investigation was also in progress in this regard.

To another query, he said that as per vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, a policy of accountability for all was being adopted as it was needed to held every official within the party or outside it accountable for his actions, adding that Jahangir Tareen was an important member of PTI core committee but he should be answerable to the law-related matters.

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the Punjab government is working hard to eliminate the sugar mafia by the power of law.

Dr Firdous said that accountability is the main slogan of the PTI and it is not possible that internal accountability is avoided, while holding the accountability of others.

The special assistant said that Jahangir Tareen is a part of PTI and he has played a commendable role in the party. “The courts are available if anybody has any reservations,” she said.