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ISLAMABAD: Addressing a news conference along with Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar and Prime Minister's Adviser on Accountability Shahzad Akbar, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad on Monday said Pakistan had been keenly monitoring the fast-changing situation in the Afghanistan.

Pakistan is in contact with all parties to Afghan conflict and is making all-out efforts for the formation of a peaceful and all-encompassing government in Kabul, he added. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan has declared unequivocally that Pakistan would be a partner of the United States in peace efforts, but not in war. He said in the past, Pakistan had an open border with Afghanistan, which had now been fenced, and in event of arrival of new Afghan refugees in Pakistan, “appropriate” steps would be initiated to handle them in a “systematic” manner.

Talking about elections in Azad Jammu & Kashmir, he said a “frustrated” PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has abandoned the Azad Kashmir election campaign midway and PML-N Vice President Maryam Safdar will soon follow suit anytime soon.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader's frustration was evident since she had no solid narrative, he said, while adding that her speeches were not up to the expectations.

Moreover, he said, the PML-N has also failed to ‘field candidates in all the constituencies’.

“On these grounds, Maryam will eventually flee the field, thus, giving an upper hand to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which was frightening them at the moment,” he said.

Out of frustration, the PML-N is already making a hue and cry over what they called “rigging” in the AJK Legislative Assembly polls, he added.

Fawad said the PML-N leader does not even know the exact number of wars that Pakistan and India have fought on the Kashmir issue.

According to him, the PTI's election campaign is robust and it will beat both the parties.

He said PML-N President and Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif in a press conference has played up the power and gas issues instead of explaining his position with regard to the allegations of corruption against him.

“Shehbaz should have answered to the queries about laundering of Rs25 billion abroad on forged documents, instead, he was justifying himself, saying he had built Metro Bus Service in Punjab,” the minister said.

Similarly, he added, when Shehbaz was asked whether his sons had transferred billions of rupees abroad, he told the investigators that he had worked on water supply schemes.

“When questioned about billions of rupees transferred to his accounts, Shehbaz said he had served the Punjab province,” the minister added.

“Both the PPP and the PML-N have one similarity that the funds given by the Centre for the development of Sindh and Punjab were traced in London,” he said.

Some of the properties of former rulers were exposed through the Panama Papers, and many more were yet to be unearthed, he added.

Replying to media persons' questions, Fawad said the National Accountability Bureau had recovered Rs427 billion during the past three years.

He appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan for an open trial of high profile cases as it would help restore the people’s confidence in justice system.

Speaking on the occasion, Hammad Azhar said that no scheduled load-shedding is taking place in any part of the country.

He said that current load-shedding is a result of a weak power transmission system.

He said the capacity of the existing transmission system is 24,000 megawatts of electricity.

He said the government is working on improving the transmission system and it has so far enhanced its capacity from 20,000 to 24,000 megawatts

Shahzad Akbar rejected Shehbaz Sharif's allegations that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is harassing him.

He said the FIA had served a notice, along with a questionnaire, to answer the allegations of corruption of billions of rupees.

He said 25 billion rupees were transacted in the name of 14 employees of two sugar mills belonging to Shehbaz Sharif and his family, and that amount later on was transferred to the accounts of Shehbaz Sharif and his family members. He asked Shehbaz Sharif to answer all these things instead of maligning the state institutions.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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