Govt to fight in court if PTI challenges Punjab interim CM's appointment: Asif

Appointment can't be challenged as it has been made after fulfilment of legal formalities, says minister

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif addresses a Press Conference at PTV Headquarters on January 23, 2023. — APP
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif addresses a Press Conference at PTV Headquarters on January 23, 2023. — APP

  • Asif says Naqvi's appointment can't be challenged.
  • Under new CM, transparent polls will be held in Punjab.
  • Minister castigates Khan for U-turn on NA resignations.

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif said Monday that if the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) challenges the appointment of Mohsin Naqvi as Punjab's interim chief minister in court, then the government would contest it.

The minister, in a news conference in Islamabad, also claimed that the appointment could not be challenged as the process has passed all the formalities — starting from the leader of the opposition to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

He said that the matter of the caretaker chief executive's appointment was resolved with consensus in  Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). However, that was unfortunately not the case in Punjab.

Asif also congratulated the interim CM for assuming his new responsibilities and wished that under his leadership free and fair elections would be held in Punjab.

He also welcomed the ECP's decision taken as per law and said that the entire process was done "according to the constitution". Explaining the reason behind rejecting PTI's nominees, he said that one of them was a serving government employee and the other was a dual national. 

"Their [PTI] vetting was not good for these nominees. So that’s why they had to face humiliation in this case," he added.

Moreover, the government's nominees had one ex-civil servant and one media personality, he said, adding, "PTI also gave the name of another honourable bureaucrat who himself apologised to take the task. Hence, the PTI's objection to Naqvi's appointment is a fake cry."

While clarifying the allegations of a plea bargain against the Punjab interim CM, he said Naqvi's name was dragged into an issue of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) plea bargain but the fact was he had taken some loan from the accused in Haris Steel Mill Case in the NAB.

"Naqvi provided a cheque with a letter during the probe and returned the loan to the accused. A few news articles erroneously reported it as a matter of plea bargain whereas one letter could not be considered as a plea bargain. And, if he has done anything illegal then we are not going to defend him," he added.

Berating former Punjab CM, Asif said: "Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and PTI had most of the objections. Elahi, at this age, has gone against all his relatives and may God bless him with a long life, he has gone against his eldest brother Chaudhry Shujaat."

Commenting on the National Assembly situation, he said the PTI tendered resignations after hurling abuses and using foul language against the parliament, which was known to all. 

"Imran Khan used indecent language against the NA and now they all want to return to the same platform. They [PTI] are demanding justice from the ECP whom they rebuked indiscriminately", he said.

The minister said the PTI leaders and MNAs were demanding the withdrawal of their resignations, whereas they should have led the opposition earlier and avoided confrontation with the parliament. 

"The PTI should stop believing that the institutions like courts, ECP, and parliament will pay the price for their wrong decisions", he remarked. 

He further added: "Imran Khan was heading gradually towards a complete political failure as all his decisions were proving wrong and miscalculated."

Khan, he said was a failed project and he wanted to revive himself on the political scene. "I believe that he is gradually losing ground in the political arena."

He said that historically, Khan always resigned after becoming an MNA. "Back on November 1, 2007, he tendered his first resignation and then boycotted. Later in 2013 and 2014 he first resigned and then withdrew it, and now recently in 2022 he again gave his resignation and is demanding its withdrawal.".

"Imran Khan is losing sanity and becoming obsessive as his behaviour, his political conduct, and backing out of political decisions qualify him to an uncertain state of mind. Any individual with a stable mind can never make such statements and decisions. The price for that is being paid by his workers and MNAs," Asif added.

His MNAs, he noted that were still living in the parliament lodges despite after one year of resignations and were enjoying all perks. "This means it was not a conclusive decision and not a final verdict on consensus in the party."

He claimed that this issue would settle after general elections would be held as per the constitution and it would further prove how much popularity Imran Khan has and what status he bears in the country.

"Khan used to praise former chief justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary then criticized him. He also praised former ECP head late justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim who was a great person and then also passed degraded remarks against him. They used to praise former COAS, Gen (retd) Bajwa a lot and then their remarks are also evident to the nation. Gen (retd) Bajwa and the nation are also listening to it what they [PTI leadership] used to say earlier."

He said Khan was not loyal to anyone including his mentors, this country, this soil and his companions, adding, "He has a lust for wealth and power and I don't want to add more."