LAHORE: Former Punjab governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar on Sunday expressed disappointment at his overnight sacking and stressed that he was sacked even though he was ready to tender his resignation. He said he was accused of playing a double game in the ongoing struggle in Center and Punjab, but made it clear he was simply not interested in participating in ‘foul language politics’ .
Speaking at a press conference at the Governor’s House, Mr Sarwar said he met Prime Minister Imran Khan twice and in the second meeting he offered to tender his resignation.
During the first meeting, he said, Defense Minister Pervez Khattak and other Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders asked him to sign a document. When he asked what kind of document it was, he was informed that it was a summary to call a session of the Punjab Assembly.
“Pervez Khattak told me that Parvez Elahi would be defeated if the assembly session was not convened sooner because (we will) not be able to handle the number required to win the post of Chief Minister if the session is delayed,” he said.
The former governor said: “I accept that I raised my voice once, but (it was) because I didn’t want to do anything unconstitutional.”
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He expressed his disappointment at being sacked late at night and particularly at a time when he was ready to step down from his post.
In response to a question, Mr Sarwar claimed to have received a phone call the night before, in which he was informed that Mr Elahi was “losing the race” to the chief minister’s office. “I was asked to adjourn the session of the assembly but I refused to commit any unconstitutional act.”
Mr. Sarwar maintained that all PTI legislators in the provincial assembly as well as party workers were surprised and saddened by the selection of Usman Buzdar as Chief Minister. “(More than any) international conspiracy, it was Imran Khan’s decision to appoint Usman Buzdar as CM of Punjab that destroyed PTI’s dreams of building a naya in Pakistan,” he said. “The recruitments were done after receiving cash while the Deputy Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners were (also) appointed after accepting bribes,” the former governor claimed.
Although there were several prominent candidates, including Fawad Chaudhry, Mr Khan decided to choose Mr Buzdar as chief minister, he said. PTI workers suffered a lot and complained whether “this is the Pakistan we want where the Chief Secretary and Inspector General are changed every three months”.
However, he said, he decided to stand by the prime minister after ignoring all his reservations. In response to another question, Mr Sarwar said the Prime Minister used to say he would never be blackmailed by anyone but ended up being “blackmailed ” by a person who had only nine MPAs in the assembly. Mr. Elahi also used to often criticize the PTI and its leadership.
The former governor went on to say that “being from a poor country, we should be within our limits. Our biggest trading partner is the European Union”. “I brought GSP+ status (to the country) after a lot of hard work. For God’s sake, don’t bring international politics into domestic politics.
He said that an independent foreign policy was the right of every country. “(But) we must establish good relations with all countries, including the United States, China, the United Kingdom, the EU and Saudi Arabia, without compromising our sovereignty,” he said. added.
Mr Sarwar is a former member of the UK parliament and left his political career in the UK in 2013 to serve in Pakistan. He originally joined the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and was appointed governor of Punjab following the party’s victory in the 2013 general election.
However, he resigned from the governor’s office in January 2015 and joined the PTI. In September 2018, he was sworn in as governor of the province for a second term. Meanwhile, the new governor of Punjab, Umer Sarfraz Cheema, is one of the first members of the PTI. He joined the party in April 1996 and served as its central information secretary for five years. He also worked as a spokesperson for the party chairman for a brief period.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022