–PML-N leader lashes out at ‘selective accountability’, says tensions will rise if PPP co-chairman is arrested
–Claims NAB is forcing him to implicate other opposition leaders in graft cases
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique on Friday termed that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law as a “black law” that has been used to target political opponents.
Saad made the remarks while addressing the National Assembly on Friday, his first session since his arrest earlier this month in Paragon housing scheme case.
Previously, delays in the issuance of production order prompted the opposition in the National Assembly to stage walkouts multiple times.
The production order was issued after consistent protests from the opposition parties, especially the PML-N that had vowed to not let the National Assembly function till issuance of Saad’s production order.
‘PARLIAMENT IS NOT INDEPENDENT’:
Saad, in his address, said that this “snake and ladders game” has been played since the inception of the country.
“Even the accountability during the PML-N government was not transparent,” he added.
“The parliament is still not independent. If it were truly independent, the speaker would have issued my production orders on the first day. I have met the speaker a few times and he is a genuine and strong man. I realise that he faced a lot of pressure and as a result of your (assembly’s) efforts, today I got the chance to speak here.”
The former railways minister claimed that the anti-graft body had failed to produce sufficient evidence against him in the Paragon Housing Scheme case. Rafique said that the assets and income that he had been declaring in his tax returns for years was now being used as “a charge sheet” against him.
He added that a “dear old friend” was forcibly turned into an approver against him but that even then allegations against him could not be proven.
“Honourable speaker, allow me to say this, I’m not among people who want PTI’s turn to come next,” Saad addressed the NA speaker.
He added that he was under “suspicion that some of your people will be [arrested] to balance out” allegations of political victimisation.
“This is not [right]. Nobody should dare to force me to become an informer against my political opponents.”
“Sometimes we are declared traitors, sometimes we are labeled as anarchists. Who are these people who think of themselves as patriots and of others as traitors?”
Saad urged all stakeholders to think about the direction of the country with a calm and clear mind.
“Does the Pakistani electorate vote for us so that we can hurl accusations at each other and damage each other’s reputations?”
“Our real competition is not amongst ourselves, it’s against poverty, economic crisis,” he noted.
“If Asif Ali Zardari is arrested, then mark my words, the tensions will worsen,” Saad warned.
“It is our request, please evaluate the situation with a calm mind,” he urged.
On Thursday, NA Speaker Asad Qaiser issued a production order for Rafique, allowing him to travel from Lahore to attend the session in the federal capital.
Earlier this month, NAB arrested Saad and his younger brother, Khawaja Salman Rafique after the Lahore High Court (LHC) dismissed their application seeking pre-arrest bail in the Paragon Housing Society case.
Early on Friday, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, Marriyum Aurangzeb and other senior leaders of the party welcomed Saad as he arrived at the Parliament.
The former railways minister, while talking to reporters outside the premises, criticised the delay in the issuance of production order and praised the opposition for supporting him over the issue.
On December 11, the anti-graft body arrested the Khawaja brothers after the Lahore High Court rejected their bail plea in the case pertaining to Paragon City housing society scam.
NAB had launched an investigation into the alleged scam in November after a number of victims staged protests and held a press conference at the Lahore Press Club against what they termed housing society’s fraud.
Last month, in a major development, Qaiser Amin Butt, a director of the Paragon City (Pvt) Limited, became an approver against PML-N stalwart Khawaja Saad Rafique in the Paragon City scandal.
The Paragon City director recorded his confession before the NAB chief, in which he spilled the beans that real owners of the Paragon City were, in fact, Khawaja brothers, further revealing that they tricked people and deprived them of money.