LAHORE: Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on Friday ex-senator and senior lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan would receive treatment similar to what was recently meted out to PTI leader Azam Swati for unduly criticising the army chief.
“We will try to keep a balance — don’t worry,” the defence minister told a presser conference when asked whether any action would be taken against Mr Ahsan for alleging that the military leadership was behind the acquittal of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza in a money laundering case.
The PPP’s Punjab chapter had earlier threatened to lay siege to Mr Ahsan’s residence on Sunday (tomorrow) if he was not immediately removed from the central executive committee of the party and his membership was not suspended.
The Lahore-based provincial executive body of the party also adopted a resolution which sought immediate expulsion of the ‘betrayer’ from the party and expressed anger at Mr Ahsan’s ‘continuous support’ for PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s style of politics, while opposing PPP policies.
Mr Swati was arrested on mutiny and defamation charges after he blamed the top military leadership for facilitating their acquittal. He was stripped off and tortured, the PTI chief alleged a day ago.
Earlier this week, Mr Ahsan in a media talk alleged the “establishment” helped the Sharif family get clear of the cases of corruption against them. “Bajwa sahab has rescued them (Sharif family) from conviction in cases and he has committed a big crime,” he remarked.
Flanked by Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Malik, and Adviser to the PM Atta Tarar at the press conference, the defence minister — without naming the PPP leader — said his comments were coming out of “personal frustration”.
“We were not acquitted under any deal, but it is a result of personal frustration of a man. What image of himself he has made in his mind is not true. For that image the quota of LPG is not taken. Personal temptation has to be controlled. I had filed LPG case in the Supreme Court and I won in which his (Mr Ahsan’s) wife name was also mentioned,” Mr Asif said.
Calling the ex-senator a “traitor”, Mr Asif alleged that the lawyer had first ditched former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto after winning a “rigged” election in 1976. “He had started betraying since then.”
Asked if Mr Ahsan would be charged for high treason, the minister said: “A man whose political value isn’t even equal to a cent […] there is no good in making him politically relevant by force.”
The PPP leader’s purpose, Mr Asif claimed, was to seek attention. “This is his status and this is his credibility.” However, the minister added that the government will “definitely” retaliate and take action against him under the law and the Constitution.
Meanwhile, a resolution adopted by the Lahore-based Punjab executive body of the PPP recommended his immediate expulsion from the party. It demands that [the central leadership] accept the notifications issued by the presidents of Zone 158 and 163 of the party for suspending basic membership of Mr Ahsan in view of the “conspiracies” hatched by him against the party in the past and violation of the party discipline in the current situation.
PPP leader Rana Farooq Saeed, who had disowned Mr Ahsan’s recent statements two days ago, told the media in Lahore on Friday that the unanimous resolution was being immediately forwarded to PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari for earliest expulsion of the “betrayer” from the party.
He said if the chairman and the CEC did not suspend membership of Mr Ahsan, the workers would besiege [a] residence of Mr Ahsan. He did not clarify which of the two residences the ex-senator owns in Lahore would be their target.