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War of word between Govt Imran

29 November, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: Friday was a day of war of words,as the government and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) invited the press, one after the other, to lay before them ‘startling revelations' about their adversaries.

Continuing his relentless attack on the protesting PTI chief, Information Minister Pervez Rashid spent the afternoon telling reporters that Imran Khan admitted to taking a large sum of money for "undisclosed services" in the year 2013-2014.

Meanwhile, speaking to media at a five-star hotel later in the evening, the PTI leaders broke out Powerpoint presentations in yet another bid to cast aspersions on the ruling party's mandate, which Imran Khan insists was engineered.

At the Press Information Department (PID), Mr Rashid claimed that Mr Khan had declared in his tax returns that he received over Rs8.4 million for providing "some services" outside Pakistan to an unidentified client. He called on Mr Khan to explain the nature of these services, saying that people will doubt his patriotism if no explanation was forthcoming.

He said that the PTI chief kept on criticising his political opponents for owning properties and businesses abroad. "Now, I advise Imran Khan not to provide services abroad as it does not bode well for a Pakistani politician."

He said that Mr Khan paid less than Rs200,000 in a year, while he has included agricultural tax as a liability. "That means he has defaulted on agricultural income," he said and asked Mr Khan to clear his dues.

Mr Rashid said the Sharif family's sugar mills paid over Rs2.44 billion in taxes between 2005 and 2014. Since his return from exile in 2007, Nawaz Sharif had personally paid more than Rs32.35 million in taxes, as well as Rs6.67 million in agricultural tax. The PM, his wife Kulsoom and daughter Maryam had collectively paid Rs54.65 million in taxes during this time.

Mr Khan, the minister said, has declared Rs13.6 million as cash in hand. He said that such huge sums in cash are held by people who want to get their hands on something illegal, adding that he didn't want to name the particular vice that Hanif Abbasi has already referred to in public.

Without linking his remarks to the thrust of his argument, Mr Rashid said that the oil mafia gets upset when efforts are made to generate hydel and coal-based energy and the ruling PML-N was trying to do just that by exploring alternative energy sources. He said that Imran Khan's sit-in had been the reason for the postponement of the Chinese president's visit to Pakistan, where multi-billion dollar energy accords were to be signed. He lamented that now, when the PM travelled to China to mend fences, the projects are being criticised even before their implementation.

"This attitude raises questions whether these services were provided to the oil lobby," he remarked.

He said the Chinese government has promised $42 billion, while project implementation will be carried out after open bidding in a transparent manner, with Chinese companies taking part in the process.

At his own crowded press conference, the PTI chairman asked all national institutions that could take notice of such "blatant electoral fraud", which he claimed was committed at the behest of PM Nawaz Sharif.

Though he didn't name anyone directly, Mr Khan's requests for intervention were obviously directed at the Supreme Court.

He expressed his disappointment, saying, "I have taken my case to parliament, the Supreme Court, and election tribunals but nobody listened to my complaints. So, I was forced to come out onto the roads."

The latest in the series of allegations the PTI leadership has been hurling at the PML-N and former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, is the printing of extra ballot papers for the last general elections.

In a presentation, senior PTI leader Dr Arif Alvi told media that at three printing presses – one each in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad – over five million more ballot papers were printed than the number of registered voters.

"So far, we have been able to collect information regarding the printing of extra ballot papers in 60 per cent of constituencies, which shows a clear trend that extra ballots were used to manipulate the final tally of votes in individual cases," Dr Alvi claimed, brandishing record books the PTI obtained from the printing companies.

However, Dr Alvi refused to share the documentary evidence, which he said the party would provide if there was a free and fair investigation. Citing a few constituencies, Dr Alvi said that in case of Khawaja Saad Rafique's constituency NA-125, an unprecedented 120,515 extra ballot papers were printed. In NA-130, another Lahore constituency, 74,770 more ballot papers were provided than the requirement. In Gujranwala, another district swept by the PML-N, the Election Commission provided 64,000 extra ballot papers in NA-101.

After presenting this evidence the PTI demanded the immediate seizure of records of printing companies and the affected constituencies because there was a chance the government would try to destroy it at some point.

"For a moment, just forget that I'm from the PTI. With this evidence, can anybody say that future elections will be free and fair," he wondered.

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