Sarwar’s exit proves our point, Imran says

IMRANNNNISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) cricketer-turned-politician leader Imran Khan says Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar’s unceremoniously relinquishing the office of governor Punjab has evidenced whatever he had been saying against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PMLN) despotic government.

“The government has turned Punjab into a police state as they use the law enforcement agency to victimize their political and non-political opponents alike,” Khan told reporters here implying that Sarwar had been sidelined because he was at odds with the PMLN leadership’s undemocratic policies.

Talking to reporters here at his Bani Gala house, Khan said that in Khjyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where PTI was in power, the police served the public and not the authorities.

“KPK police is apolitical. No one is facing any politically-motivated cases in the courts of law there,” he said.

To a question, the PTI chief said that government was playing hide-and-seek with them with regards to the formation of a judicial commission to probe into May 11, 2013 vote fraud.

“Sitting on the fence, they are neither clearly saying a ‘nay’ nor a ‘yea’. They are always talking around it without even coming close to the point. We will, however, give them a time frame for the constitution of commission,” Khan said.

Leveling a serious allegation against Pakistan’s somewhat first family, Khan said that one of the Sharifs had had one, Ramzan, a manager at one of their sugar mills taken away and his family thrown in the jail by their uniformed goons.

“No one knows about the whereabouts of Ramzan and his wife and four children are languish in the lockup,” the PTI leader said claiming Salaman Shahbaz, the son of Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, is the one who called the shots in this case.

Earlier in the day,  Sarwar resigned as governor saying the country’s political system had failed ordinary people and served “only the elite class”.

Mohammad Sarwar, a businessman who served as a British member of parliament for more than a decade, was appointed to the largely ceremonial role in Pakistan’s most populous and influential province in 2013.

The 62-year-old’s resignation, less than two years into the job, comes two days after he criticised the government for failing to persuade US President Barack Obama to visit.

Sarwar renounced his British citizenship to take the role in Punjab but in his resignation speech in Lahore voiced disappointment at progress in the province.

“I am resigning because the system has failed to deliver to the masses,” Sarwar said.

“The system is serving only the elite class and the common man is deprived of justice, rights and prosperity.”

Punjab is the main power base of the centre-right Pakistan Muslim League-N (PMLN) party of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which appointed Sarwar.

Sarwar, who held elected office for Britain’s centre-left Labour Party for more than 25 years in the Scottish city of Glasgow, said he was frustrated at the lack of progress in Punjab.

“Social injustice is increasing in the province. The system is not delivering,” he said.

Sarwar called Pakistan’s inability to secure a visit from Obama — who this week made his second tour of arch-rival India — a “diplomatic failure”.

One of Sarwar’s senior staff said the governor had tendered his resignation Wednesday night before announcing it Thursday.

“The former governor left Governor House immediately after the press conference as a house was hired for him this morning,” the staffer told AFP on condition of anonymity.

At his press conference on Thursday, Sarwar slammed the government for failing to address a widening poverty gap and doing more on crime.

“I want to see a Pakistan where the son of a farmer, a cobbler, an ironsmith can also go to the parliament and not just the sons of businessman and industrialists,” he said.

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