PM asks aides for legal plan to bring Nawaz back


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday asked Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders to foil all moves of the opposition aimed at destabilising the government and maligning the army, and devise a legal strategy to bring back Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif from the United Kingdom.

He issued the directives while presiding over the first meeting of a committee recently formed to counter the narrative of the opposition. The committee comprises federal ministers Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry, Shafqat Mahmood and Pervez Khattak.

A source privy to the meeting told that the prime minister was committed to bringing back Nawaz Sharif from London and directed the committee members to devise a legal strategy because in the absence of an extradition treaty between Pakistan and the UK, it would become difficult to get the PML-N leader extradited.

A couple of days ago, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Shahzad Akbar had told that he had written fresh letters to the British authorities for Mr Sharif’s repatriation, adding that a formal application had also been sent for his extradition. The adviser was of the view that though both countries had no extradition treaty, wanted people could be handed over to each other under special arrangements.

The source said the committee would meet on a daily basis and make day-to-day plans on how to counter the opposition’s moves in parliament, media and on political forums.

The meeting also decided to contact the five ‘rebel’ PML-N members of the Punjab Assembly who had recently met Chief Minister Usman Buzdar without informing the party leadership.

Prime Minister Khan vowed to defeat the opposition’s designs and defend state institutions, including the army. “Enemies of the army are in fact enemies of Pakistan,” the prime minister was quoted as saying.

He said he did not fear the opposition’s campaign against the government, once again ruling out any National Reconciliation Ordinance-like concession. He said it was his mission to expose corrupt politicians. “The opposition leaders have a problem with the army, and that is why their corruption is being traced.”

Mr Khan said Nawaz Sharif and India wanted to weaken the country. “Nawaz Sharif wants to bring people on to the streets while he and his children are sitting in London,” he said, adding that the former prime minister wanted institutions to protect his interests.

Responding to Mr Sharif’s claim that he had been asked by former Inter-Services Intelligence director general Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam to resign, the prime minister wondered: “Why did he [Nawaz Sharif] not take a firm stand then and why did he not speak on that occasion?”

PM meets Punjab, Balochistan CMs

Prime Minister Khan held separate meetings with Chief Ministers Usman Buzdar of Punjab and Jam Kamal Khan Alyani of Balochistan and discussed with them problems facing their provinces as well as development-oriented initiatives.

In another meeting, the prime minister reviewed progress on the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project. It was attended by CM Buzdar, Naya Pakistan Housing and Development Authority chairman retired Lt Gen Anwar Ali Haider, Chief Secretary Jawad Rafique, Federal Board of Revenue chairman Javed Ghani, the Ravi Urban Development Authority chairman and investors from the construction sector.

Prime Minister Khan said the Ravi riverfront project was aimed at uplifting Lahore city and also meeting its water needs. He said the project would create job opportunities and stir economic activity.

The Punjab chief minister informed the prime minister that the project was being monitored at the highest level and targets had been set for its implementation. He assured the premier that every effort would be made to ensure its timely completion.

Later, a delegation of overseas Pakistanis called on the prime minister and presented him a cheque for Rs10 million for Diamer-Bhasha dam. The delegation comprised Afzal Mehmood, Sheikh Rafiq, Maroof Hussain and Majid Khan.