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December 1, 2017



Army even given credit for PML-N’s good work, says governor

Citing the Karachi operation as an example, Sindh Governor Mohammad Zubair said on Wednesday that the Pakistan Army even gets credit for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) good work.

He said the army should not be credited for the Karachi operation because the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif himself had taken the decision, for which the relevant laws were amended. However, he lamented, the media does not give the credit to the PML-N government.

Moreover, he said Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had also taken many steps to appease religious parties.

He said the current government of the PML-N had become the first administration in the country’s history to conceive, initiate and complete a number of development projects within its own tenure.

Zubair made these remarks during a meeting with industrialists and traders. Notables from different walks of life, including diplomats in Karachi, attended the meeting.

“The latest example is of the completion of the first phase of the 1,320MW coal-based power plant at Bin Qasim just inaugurated by the prime minister where I was also present before I left for this dinner,” said Governor Zubair.

He said the second phase of the power project would come online by February, adding that the Bin Qasim power plant had been completed in record time as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. “Our Chinese partners have also admitted that this project was completed in record time.”

The governor said PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had been visiting the city virtually every 15 days, and during every visit he launched a new development project completed by the government.

“The last time he was here to inaugurate the second LNG terminal at Bin Qasim, as work on both the first and the second LNG terminal of the country was started during the tenure of the current administration.”

Zubair said the Thar coal power project had now become a reality with the investment of $2 billion, adding that it was not a joke for a country such as Pakistan to make such a heavy investment in a single project.

He said the government had transformed the face of Pakistan for the international community on two counts, security issues and energy crisis, adding that these were the two major alarming issues confronting the country when the current administration had come to power in 2013.

The governor said the security situation in Karachi, the hub of financial and business activities, had improved a lot after a targeted operation in the city was launched in September 2013, soon after the present government came to power, after taking all the stakeholders on board.

He said the city had witnessed much deterioration of law and order and a virtual breakdown of security over the past several decades whether a military ruler or a democratic administration was in power. “For instance, one should recall May 12, 2007, when the then deposed chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, came to Karachi, when 60 people were killed and hundreds injured. A helicopter view of the metropolis would have shown an under-siege and war-torn city.”

Zubair continued: “This was the same man whose road rally at that time had not been intercepted or interfered with in any other part of the country.”

He said that earlier, people of a certain party had virtually been given a licence to kill, even by the then military government, but “now we have transformed the city”.

Faizabad sit-in

The governor conceded that the government’s handling of the Faizabad sit-in near Islamabad had proved to be a massive failure. “It was a massive failure first in terms of communication and second in terms of quality of the operation.”

He said the quality of the operation should have been better even when the Islamabad High Court was supporting the crackdown. “But in the end, we buckled. I don’t want to go into the details of how we buckled.”

Zubair said the logic and reason behind the government’s operation should have been better explained to the relevant quarters under its communication strategy, adding that all the mainstream political parties of the country should have been taken on board before the crackdown, but, unfortunately, that did not happen. He regretted that even the mainstream parties had not sided with the government, and it was extremely difficult for the ruling party to handle such a situation alone. He said the state should not have conceded the space to such elements, the space it had just regained to revive a tolerant and liberal society according to the ideals of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Talking about the process just started to rebuild a tolerant and liberal society in the country, Zubair said: “We thought we were moving in the right direction until this Faizabad thing happened, which reminded all of us that it is far from over as it is like taking one step forward and two steps backward.” He said the government in the past had resolved that the process of the state conceding space should be stopped for the sake of a tolerant class and for building a society according to the Quaid’s ideals.

“For such a cause the moment of truth and courage came when a small group, of which I was also a part, proposed to the PM to recognise [Nobel laureate and physicist] Dr Abdus Salam. The state and governments in the previous 40 years had not recognised him obviously owing to religious reasons.”

The governor said the other moment of truth and courage for the state came at the time of the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, as people like him should have been otherwise languishing in jail for decades even after a decision came in their cases by the highest courts. He said the government had borne the brunt of the decision to execute Qadri, as first it was a massive gathering of people, never seen in decades, for his funeral. “Secondly, within three weeks of the hanging, the PML-N lost a by-election in Gujranwala in a constituency we haven’t lost in decades.”

Altaf Hussain

Zubair said there had been many issues in the country’s history where the state should not have acted as a silent spectator and, instead, should have taken the desired action. “And all these instances didn’t come from the religious context alone.”

He expressed remorse that the state had failed to act in all such cases despite the fact that several warning signs had appeared, as one such glaring instance was of Mohajir Qaumi Movement founder Altaf Hussain, as “a mafia was created out of him in Karachi”. He said the state did not act against this “mafia” because Hussain had a political following in the city and it went on for decades. “During this time people had to suffer target killings, extortion and other forms of crime and violence, but there was no respite by the state.”

‘PPP terrorists’ theory

The governor also conceded that it was utterly wrong to assume on the part of the state’s agencies that the PML-N wished to establish a link between leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and terrorism.

Zubair said former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of the PML-N had clearly been wrong when he assumed such a thing. “The PPP has many faults, like the PML-N, I concede, but it is utterly unfair to link the PPP with terrorism, and this is what we have been trying to convey. And see the result: where is Dr Asim now?”

PM disqualification case

The governor said the Supreme Court’s July 28 verdict that disqualified Nawaz Sharif as the PM was the worst among all the high-profile political cases that had stirred a controversy in the country’s judicial history.

“This case fares very poorly when we compare it with previous controversial judgements, whether in the Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan case, in Bhutto’s hanging case or in the Zafar Ali Shah case.”

He said this was simply because the reasons given in the judgement of the July 28 verdict had nothing to do with the content of the petition, adding that a sitting premier was disqualified merely on the basis of an accounting issue, which should not have happened.

“I would never agree to the reason given in the judgement on the basis of my 30-year experience in finance and on the basis of my last job as the CFO of IBM,” Zubair said, referring to the issue of Nawaz’s salary from the company of his son he had not shown as part of his declaration of assets in his electoral nomination documents.

The governor said the best course in such a case for the apex judiciary would have been to appoint a reputable international chartered accountant firm as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) to assist the Supreme Court’s bench to decide on the accounting issue pertaining to the salary of the now-deposed PM.