Govt vows to take accountability drive to ‘logical end’


–Info Minister Fawad says people will continue to suffer from inflation till Sharifs and Zardari cough up ‘looted money’

–Accuses PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz of using women, children as shields to avoid NAB arrest


ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Saturday said the nation would continue to suffer from inflation and economic crunch till the recovery of the money “looted by the Sharif family and Asif Zardari”, adding that the government was committed to taking the accountability process to its ‘logical end’.

Addressing a press conference here, Fawad said that recovering the wealth plundered by corrupt politicians, including the Sharifs and Zardari, was imperative to put Pakistan’s economy on the right track. He added that the Sharif family wanted that the law should follow their whims and they should not be held accountable for the national wealth they had plundered.

“Pakistan’s total foreign debt from 1947 to 2007 was only $37 billion, which was judiciously used to execute many mega projects, including the development of Islamabad as the capital, construction of Mangla and Tarbela dams, naval bases and Gwadar deep seaport, but from the year 2008 to 2018 it touched $97bn.  Where did the $60bn go?” he said.

“A big chunk of that amount was misappropriated by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari, who remained in government during the period (2008-2018),” he alleged.

Referring to the massacre of innocent workers of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) in Model Town Lahore in 2014, the minister said the behaviour of the then Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government was totally different as compared to the present regime.

“Now in the same Model Town, PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz had confined himself in the basement of his house to avoid arrest and that too by making women and children as a shield,” Fawad said, taking a jibe at the son of former Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif who has twice thwarted NAB raids at his residence in connection with a money laundering case.

The minister said it was time now to differentiate between an act of crime and politics.

Hamza Shehbaz, he said, was being arrested in light of statements of two witnesses. Evidence of wrongdoings by Shehbaz Sharif and his family is also available, he added.

Hamza should better cooperate with NAB and surrender himself before the law, which otherwise would take its own course, he added.

He said when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) came into power last year, the country was on the verge of bankruptcy due to the loot and plunder of Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari. Now Pakistan was moving towards economic stability owing to positive measures taken by the incumbent government, he added.

The PTI government, he said, had taken bold decisions for economic stability.

To a question, the minister said the opposition posed no threat to the government.

Fawad said the PTI government had eased visa restrictions for promoting tourism in the country. The contours of amnesty scheme for declaring assets abroad were being finalized, he added. He said so far two thirds economy of the country was undocumented. The next budget would be industry-friendly as the export sector had already been provided subsidy of Rs 45 billion, he added. The minister said a crackdown had been launched against the people hoarding dollars, which had brought the value of rupee down.

He criticised PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb for issuing baseless statements.

Responding to a question, Fawad said the government had nothing to do with NAB activities.

He said it was Prime Minister Imran Khan who had raised voice against former MQM chief Altaf Hussainn for his terrorist activities during his prime time. Today’s Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) had changed and was totally different from its past, he added.