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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz on Thursday lambasted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for his "campaign to malign state institutions to hide horrible tales of his mega corruption" and likened the ex-premier to Altaf Hussain.

"He is a three-time prime minister and he is a compulsive liar," the minister told a press conference. He was referring to Sharif's virtual address to the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) earlier on Wednesday in which he strongly criticized the state institutions.

"Someone else is running the Parliament," Sharif was quoted as saying.

Taking him in his presser, Faraz said "The reality behind this vilification campaign against the state institutions is that Sharif family has amassed wealth of billions and billions of rupees. All of this is dirty money and they want to get away with it which is not going to happen. Noose is tightened around them so (Nawaz) Sharif, his family members and cronies are crying foul. The allegations of victimization and witch hunting are but desperate bids to take refuge from accountability in the garb of playing victim."

"Nawaz Sharif has become another Altaf Hussain," he said referring to disgraced leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement London (MQM-L) who is accused of patronizing heinous crimes like killings and extortion in Karachi and delivering anti-Pakistan speeches from London.

"What could be more unfortunate than the fact that a person, who was elected prime minister of this country three times, is spitting venom against state institutions to protect his dirty money," he added.

"He (Sharif) has laundered money on a very large scale and he has to pay for it. This hue and cry-cribbing and crying would not help."

He said the former governments of PML-N and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) wasted $23 billion to artificially control the dollar value in Pakistan.

Responding to the allegations of 'massive rigging' in 2018 general elections, the information minister said 487 election petitions were filed by various political parties, while majority of them was moved by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after 2013 general elections.

After 2018 elections, he said 287 election petitions were filed and 90 of them were about National Assembly constituencies. Of those 90, 45 petitions were filed by PTI, where the party's candidates had lost elections with a margin of 50 to 2000 votes, Faraz said. In Punjab which the PML-N claims is its stronghold, only 13 election petitions was filed 11 of them belonged to PML-N, he added.

"Not to forget that it was PTI that demanded opening of four constituencies after general election 2013, a valid and justified demand that was rejected by PML-N government," the minister said

Faraz said there is sufficient stock of wheat and sugar in the country. "Prime Minister Imran Khan is very concerned about availability of essential items. The government is working on evolving a strategy to ensure the availability of essential items like flour, sugar, ghee, pulses, and other things at affordable rates to the general public," he said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020