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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal on Wednesday said that the decision to contest Senate election was taken by his party to deter the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) from obtaining two-thirds majority in the Upper House.

Talking to reporters after appearing before the Accountability Court in connection with the Narowal Sports City Complex Project (NSCCP) scam, he said that if the PML-N did not contest the Senate election, then the PTI would obtain two-thirds majority in the Senate and would change the constitution.

He said that in that case the PTI could do away with the 18th amendment, bring back 58-2(b) and could impose presidential system instead of a parliamentary system.

“The PML-N will take part in the Senate elections and will stop the PTI from obtaining a two-thirds majority,” he said, adding that we will take part in the Senate elections as the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)’s central point is to protect the constitution and stop the government’s conspiracies.

To a question, he said that the PDM had obtained success in its struggle against the government. The PDM through its continuous campaign has mobilised public against this “incompetent government”.

Due to the PDM’s movement, cracks have developed within the PTI, he claimed.

Iqbal warned that a decisive long march would sweep away the government when the time came. “Every minister of the PTI is involved in the worst form of corruption,” he said.

He said that every minister in this government, on the one hand, talks about honesty and on the other hand, is busy looting the country.

He said that the NAB was a “one-eyed body”, adding that it was looking the other way when it comes to the ruling party’s corruption.

Iqbal said that a minister’s claims that he had embezzled Rs70 billion in construction of Multan-Sukkur motorway project.

The minister did not know that the CPEC projects were directly funded by the Chinese government, he said, adding that government of China has directly provided funds to contractors of the CPEC projects.

“It is due to these irresponsible statements that the CPEC has become controversial around the world,” he said.

He said that the present government had pushed the country into a debt trap as the PML-N during its five years tenure took loans of Rs10,000 billion, while the incumbent government had taken loans of over Rs11,000 billion during its two and a half years but still had not started a single development project in the country.

The PML-N leader said that PTI government had not only destroyed the economy but had also destroyed the higher education in the country.

Majority of universities in the country have gone bankrupt due to the lack of funding and are facing financial problems as the government has cut Higher Education Commission (HEC)’s budget, he said.

He demanded of the government to provide a special grant of Rs10 billion to the HEC in order to provide support to the universities. “I strongly condemn the anti-development and anti-education policies of the present government,” he said.

He said that the NAB had started the NSCCP scam inquiry against him and others on the basis of a news story of an unknown newspaper in which it was alleged that Rs6 billion had been wasted on a sport project located at a distance of 800 meters from the border.

According to official figures, only Rs2.5 billion has been spent on the NSCCP project. The reference filed by the NAB in the Accountability Court neither contain allegation of spending of Rs6 billion and setting of the project at 600 meters from border nor contain allegation of financial corruption. The only allegation leveled against me in the reference is as to why I made efforts for completion of this project The NAB has made this “bogus reference” against me just for my character assassination, he said.

Earlier, he appeared before the Accountability Court-III judge, Syed Ashgar Ali, in the NSCCP scam.

The court marked attendance of the accused and two prosecution witnesses, Mohsin Raza and Azhar Ahmed.

The defence counsel requested the court to grant them time for conducting cross examination of the witness, which the court approved.

The court adjourned hearing of the case till February 10th and the defence counsel will do cross examination of the witnesses during the next hearing.

Meanwhile, a co-accused, Asif Sheikh, has expressed willingness before the Accountability Court to become an approver against Iqbal.

Sheikh has filed an application before the court to become an approver in the NSCCP case, and also requested to allow him to go to the USA for treatment.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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