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Faraz denies govt involvement in FIR against Nawaz, PML-N leaders

Information Minister Shibli Faraz on Wednesday reiterated that the government and Prime Minister Imran Khan are not involved in the FIR against former convicted prime minister Nawaz Sharif or other party leaders fo “conspiring” against the state.

“We have nothing to do with the incident. Anyone in this country can go and file an FIR against someone. The government is not [involved] in this. It is focused on working for the people and their welfare,” the federal minister said while speaking to the media in Karachi.

Faraz’s statement comes just days after Lahore police filed an FIR against the former prime minister, Maryam Nawaz and other top PML-N leaders, accusing them of sedition among other charges.

Earlier on Tuesday, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) disowned a man, who had filed the case with the police in Lahore.

PM Imran also categorically denied any knowledge of lodging of the first information report (FIR) against the PML-N supremo and other senior leaders of the party, saying that the government did not believe in “political revenge”.

Temperatures have risen on the political landscape since the opposition launched the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) last month. And a new buzz stirred on Monday after an FIR was registered with the Shahdara police station by one Badar Rasheed.

While speaking to the media in Karachi along with the party’s provincial leadership, Faraz added that what is happening in the country at present is for the ‘personal interest’ of some people.

He maintained that the only purpose of the rallies announced by the opposition was to divert attention away from the corruption of their leaders and to pressurise the government into giving them relief.

The information minister said that the premier has taught us that we have to contribute to the development of the entire country and not to serve a specific area.

Faraz further said that opposition parties were the ones responsible for the ruin of state institutions and the economy.

“While the government has managed to effectively deal with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s economy has suffered. If an opposition party wants to start such a campaign during the current scenario, then it can’t be for the benefit of the country.”

When asked about the recent war of words between Centre and the Sindh government over Islamabad’s move to take over the twin islands of Bundal and Buddo through a presidential ordinance, he replied that the government was only trying to foster economic activity in the area.

“The industries of Sindh and Karachi will benefit from this [and] it will create employment. We are bringing in development and foreign investment to benefit Sindh’s people.” He added that those who will be affected by the development work will be compensated.

Those nominated in the FIR included Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, besides senior PML-N leaders Maryam Nawaz, Ayaz Sadiq, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Pervaiz Rashid, Khawaja Asif, Rana Sanaullah and Iqbal Zafar Jhagra.

The FIR invokes laws regarding criminal conspiracy, waging or attempting to wage war against Pakistan, sedition, provocation with intent to cause riot, statements conducing to public mischief and other crimes.

Hours after the registration of the case, top aides of the prime minister, including one senior member of the cabinet, said that Imran was “displeased” with the move. Faraz had said on Tuesday that it could be the handiwork of “someone related” to the opposition.

The case was also discussed in the cabinet meeting. Some ministers, including Fawad Chaudhry, Shireen Mazari, Shafqat Mehmood, Nadeem Afzal Chan and Ali Muhammad Khan demanded the withdrawal of the FIR, saying that the case had tarnished the image of the government.

According to sources, some ministers suggested that the matter of the filing of the case should be investigated and that the FIR be brought to its logical conclusion. It was decided that the police would be allowed to pursue the case and the government would not intervene in this regard.

At the post-cabinet meeting press conference, Faraz distanced had Prime Minister Imran and the government from the registration of the FIR and told reporters that “someone related” to the opposition might have done it.

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