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Govt will never surrender to Imran’s wishes: Saad Rafique

Govt will never surrender to Imran’s wishes: Saad Rafique

LAHORE: Federal Minister for Railways and Aviation Khawaja Saad Rafique has said that what Imran Khan wants will never happen, as the government will never surrender to his desires.

“Whatever you want, it will not come to pass. It will not be done because you are a fascist. You don’t have any connection with democracy. You have abrogated the Constitution. You are ‘falsely’ popular,” the minister lashed out at PTI chief Imran Khan at a news conference here at the Pakistan Railways (PR) headquarters on Monday.

“You (IK) have a cult-following. And [we] will not hand over this country to a man having such following,” he declared.

Describing Mr Khan and his facilitators as thieves and Sicilian Mafia, the minister asked them to apologise to the nation for promoting and installing a party that had allegedly destroyed everything in the country.

Claims ‘facilitators’ are trying to reinstall ex-PM; asks PIA pilots to ‘bear with’ govt on tax issue

“Not we, you are thieves. Not we, you are the Sicilian Mafia. Instead of seeking pardon individually and covertly, you all (IK’s facilitators) must seek pardon collectively from the nation.”

He alleged that Imran Khan’s facilitators (within the establishment and the judiciary) had now started efforts to bring the PTI chief back to power at a time when the PDM-led government is trying hard to clean the mess created by Imran Khan.

Mr Rafique said the opposition threw Mr Khan out in a constitutional way, but his facilitators had started fresh efforts to bring him back. “We undertook the work to clear the mess created by him [Imran] that caused further inflation,” he said, adding the PDM government did this at the cost of its political capital. And now, he lamented, by highlighting the same pretext of inflation before the public, they (the facilitators) are trying to install him again.

“We know what’s happening. You [facilitators] can do whatever you want, but we will not give space to Imran Khan,” he warned.

In reply to a question, the minister termed the April 30 date for elections in Punjab and KP unrealistic. According to him, it was done in isolation to support a particular party. How long will PTI be given special treatment, he questioned.

Recalling the previous PML-N government, he deplored that state institutions (establishment, judiciary and some journalists) had joined hands to remove a well-performing government under a conspiracy, repeatedly called opposition leaders as looters and thieves, rigged elections, installed a man having no sense of politics, put opposition politicians behind bars, registered baseless cases against them and destroyed their businesses and the country’s economy.

And when he was removed through a no-confidence move, he declared that was done under a conspiracy, the minister said. However, he added, the conspiracy turned out to be false as PTI is now polishing American boots by hiring lobbying firms in the US.

“You (Imran) and your facilitators will have to bring back Pakistan on the position of 2017,” Mr Rafique warned, referring to the time when PML-N was in power.

“What justice you have given to Nawaz Sharif who was thrown out of politics on the basis of an iqama (work permit) or non-receiving of salary from his son. Did anyone find and prove even a single corruption case against Nawaz Sharif or Shehbaz Sharif during their 20 years’ opposition period,” he argued.

Trains being upgraded

Mr Rafique said Pakistan Railways had decided to upgrade two more trains to reduce travelling pressure on Green Line Express.

“Besides running special trains on the eve of Eid, we have decided to operate summer or seasonal trains. The department has also decided to run a new cargo train from Peshawar to Karachi, besides reducing freight charges for all existing freight trains,” he explained.

He said a pilot project is being launched under which railway stations (Lahore City and Raiwind) and several trains, including Green Line and Railcar, will be branded and added that for this purpose bidding process will be held soon. The process to auction or lease out some 2,600 PR-owned shops has also started.

“The PR management has decided to convert 51 buildings, including railways stations, to solar energy,” he said.

Talking about the aviation ministry, Mr Rafique said his ministry is all set to outsource the operation of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad airports and the issue will be placed before the Economic Coordination Committee soon.

He urged the PIA pilots to cooperate with the government, saying it was trying hard to resolve their issue of 32 per cent tax on their salaries.

“Since we are passing through a fire-fighting phase, please help us,” he requested the pilots.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2023

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