Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry has claimed that four PML-N leaders are “hell bent on removing Nawaz Sharif from the party.”

Addressing a gathering in Lahore on Sunday, Fawad said that there is a “rat race going on among senior PML-N members as to who would lead the party next,” adding that, “four top-most party leaders want to remove PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in a bid to take over the party’s leadership.”

The minister even claimed that the four members he was referring to “even went out to meet someone and confessed that since Nawaz had treated the country in a bad manner, they should instead be given a chance to lead the party.”

“An interesting race is going on within the opposition party. You all know them as they sit in the front row of the party,” Fawad said when asked to name the four leaders during his interaction with the media at Lahore Press Club.

Speaking about the “lack of coordination and trust” among opposition parties, Fawad said that there is “so much mistrust among the PML-N, the PPP, and the JUI that they don’t even blink an eye lest the other one should strike a deal.”

He said that Nawaz, who is currently living on the most expensive property in London, is directly responsible for the ongoing inflation in the country as he was the former premier of Pakistan.

The information minister also downplayed the opposition’s announcement that it would organise a long march in coming months or could move a no-confidence motion against the prime minister.

Fawad said the opposition was flexing its muscles from the very first year of the PTI government.

The minister earlier told the journalists that the current price-hike of essential commodities was directly linked to ex-premier Nawaz Sharif. “If this government ignores the ‘reason’ behind inflation, how it will control inflation,” he said.

He elaborated that Pakistan had borrowed a total of Rs6 trillion loan until 2008 to establish organisations and complete mega projects, but the previous two governments took Rs23 trillion loan from 2008 to 2018.

The PTI government during its five-year stint was supposed to return $55 billion of the loan, he said, adding that $32 billion of the amount had been paid back till date.

About PTI’s prospects in the next general elections, Fawad said the PML-N and the PPP had become regional parties, as PTI was the only party that had as many as 1,100 candidates to field in elections across Pakistan.

He said both the parties had opposed a bill that allowed the government to stop advertisement of the media houses that did not duly pay proper salaries to journalists and media workers. He also highlighted the need for mature political debate on broadcast media and chided the media coverage of an altercation between PTI leaders Pervez Khattak and Hammad Azhar.

The information minister said media houses had not increased salaries of working journalists for past several years despite the fact the owners earned 33 to 40 per cent more profit this year.

He said instead of raising remuneration of TV anchor persons who had already been getting lion’s share, media houses should enhance salaries of working journalists.

He also announced Implementation Tribunal for Newspaper Employees (ITNE) would be made functional with the appointment of its chairman within a month, while broadcast media workers would also be able to take their cases to the tribunal.

He also called for digital media training of journalists working for newspapers, as print media should prepare for digitization. He said it was just a matter of time when the 5G technology would be available. Even at present advertisements worth Rs12 billion had already shifted to the digital media, he said.

With regard to Gwadar, the minister said the government had given a historic Rs700bn package. A new mechanism had been created for the city so that all its major issued would be resolved within next six months, he said.

The minister also announced health insurance facility for journalists and said the government scheme was aimed at mitigating the sufferings of the salaried class and low-income families.

He suggested the Sindh government to adopt the PM’s National Health Card programme for effective provision of health facilities to all and sundry.

He said the national health card programme would incur half the amount the Sindh government was currently spending on provision of healthcare facilities in the province. A huge sum of fund was spent on the construction of hospital buildings only and salaries, he said. By introducing the national health card, this amount would be spent on medical treatment of the masses in a better way, he added.

RANA SANAULLAH: Meanwhile, PML-N’s Punjab chapter president Rana Sanaullah categorically denied the information minister’s statement about the meeting of four leaders with “someone”, terming it “factually wrong”.

“If someone means establishment or more precisely the army chief, no one can meet him without prior intimation and agenda,” he said.

Sanaullah said the information minister was making up stories to convince the ruling party leaders who were afraid of the sharp decline in the PTI’s popularity or were about to quit it that the PTI was strong and “still in deal with the [military] establishment”.

He believed that the PTI leadership was also consoling its political allies. He called upon the state institutions to take note of the federal minister’s statements as he was dragging them into politics and tarnishing their repute.

Referring to a national security meeting, the opposition lawmaker said all including ministers were there and said: “Any exchange of pleasantries does not mean that a meeting was held between the PML-N leaders and establishment.”

Sanaullah claimed that there was no confrontation within the PML-N leadership and dispelled the impression that anyone went and met former premier Nawaz Sharif in London nor he spoke to anyone in the establishment. He said the PML-N did not want any deal but free and fair elections.


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