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LAHORE: Punjab’s former governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar on Sunday expressed disappointment over his sacking in the dead of night and pointed out that he was sacked even though he was ready to tender his resignation. He said he was being accused of indulging in double-dealing in the ongoing tussle at the Centre and in Punjab but made it clear that he was simply not interested in partaking in the “politics of foul language”.

Speaking at a press conference at the Governor’s House, Mr Sarwar said he met Prime Minister Imran Khan twice and during the second meeting he offered to tender his resignation.

During the first meeting, he said, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and other leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) asked him to sign a paper. When he asked what kind of a paper it was, he was informed that it was a summary for summoning a session of the Punjab Assembly.

“Pervez Khattak told me Parvez Elahi would be defeated if the assembly session is not called early, because (we will) not be able to manage the required numbers to win the chief minister’s slot if the session is delayed,” he said.

The former governor said, “I accept that I raised my voice once, but (that was) because I did not want to commit any unconstitutional act.”

Govt appoints Omar Sarfraz Cheema as new Punjab Governor

He expressed disappointment that he was sacked late at night and particularly at a time when he was ready to resign from his position.

In response to a question, Mr Sarwar claimed that he received a telephone call the previous night, wherein he was informed that Mr Elahi was “losing the race” to the chief minister’s office. “I was asked to adjourn the assembly session but I declined to commit any unconstitutional act.”

Mr Sarwar maintained that all the PTI lawmakers in the provincial assembly as well as the party’s workers were surprised and saddened by the selection of Usman Buzdar as a chief minister. “(More than any) international conspiracy, it was Imran Khan’s decision to nominate Usman Buzdar for the position of Punjab CM that destroyed the PTI’s dreams of building a naya Pakistan,” he said. “Recruitments were made after taking cash amounts while deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners were (also) appointed after taking bribes,” the former governor alleged.

Although there were several prominent candidates, including Fawad Chaudhry, Mr Khan decided to pick Mr Buzdar as the chief minister, he said. The PTI workers suffered a lot and complained whether “this is the Pakistan that we wanted where the chief secretary and inspector general are changed after every three months”.

However, he said, he decided to stand by the prime minister after ignoring all his reservations. In response to another query, Mr Sarwar said the PM used to say that he would never be blackmailed by anyone, but he ended up by being “blackmailed” by a person who had only nine MPAs in the assembly. Mr Elahi too used to criticise the PTI and its leadership often.

The former governor went on to say that “being from a poor country we should be in our limits. Our largest trading partner is the European Union”. “I brought GSP+ status (to the country) after much hard work. For God’s sake, do not bring international politics into national politics.”

He said that an independent foreign policy was the right of every country. “(But) we need to establish good ties with all the countries, including US, China, UK, EU, and Saudi Arabia, without compromising our sovereignty,” he added.

Mr Sarwar is a former member of the British parliament and gave up his political career in the UK in 2013 to serve in Pakistan. He had initially joined the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and was appointed as the governor of Punjab after the party won the 2013 general elections.

However, he resigned from the governor’s office in January 2015 and joined the PTI. In September 2018, he was sworn in as the governor of the province for a second term. Meanwhile, new Punjab Governor Umer Sarfraz Cheema is one of the early members of the PTI. He joined the party in April 1996 and served as its central information secretary for five years. He also worked as the party chairman’s spokesperson for a brief period.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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