A senior cabinet minister has asked PPP’s top leadership to declare their ‘assets in and outside the country’ before setting off a campaign against corruption. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s statement came two days after PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari asked party cadres to prepare for a massive anti-government campaign ‘without any delay’.
The verbal duel between the ruling party and the main opposition group is likely to increase political temperature in the country ahead of the homecoming of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who is currently recuperating in London after an open heart surgery.
“Before joining the movement against corruption, Asif Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari must declare their assets and tell the nation how they have managed to purchase properties in Dubai, Britain and America,” Nisar said while speaking to the media after inaugurating a NADRA centre in the Blue Area of the federal capital.
He laughed off the proposed movement of the opposition, saying it is like the Hindu hard-line Bharatiya Janata Party championing for the rights of Muslims in India.
“Apart from [MQM chief], who is a British citizen, Asif Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto are the only two politicians who have not declared their assets,” Nisar said. “Bilawal should question his father about his assets in the same way he asked Nawaz Sharif.”
Reacting to criticism from Sindh Information Minister Moula Bux Chandio, Nisar said: “He [Chandio] gets salary from the national exchequer for speaking against me.”
He also defended Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s statement against the PPP leadership. “Presently, there are cacophonic calls of irrational demands against corruption,” he said. “Today, it has become fashion to talk against corruption,” he added. “One should talk in proper context and with logic.”
The minister said he has no objection to Imran Khan and Bilawal Bhutto sharing the same platform, but the PTI chairman should ask Bilawal about the Surrey Palace before “bringing him on the container”.
Nisar said whenever the corruption of the PPP leaders was brought into discussion they claimed that they have been acquitted by courts. “The reality is that they got protection under the National Reconciliation Order (NRO) introduced by General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. When the apex court declared the NRO unconstitutional, the last PPP government appointed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman of its choice to hush up the matter.”
He said the PPP government refused to become party in the Swiss bank account case and got corruption cases against them withdrawn. “I respect Raza Rabbani, Qamar Zaman Kaira and Farhatullah Babar but cases filed against corrupt PPP leaders should be taken to a logical end.”
About the NADRA mega centre, Nisar announced that such centres would also be set up in other cities because maintaining transparency in the registration process had become “our national security issue”. Karachi would have three mega centres, keeping in view its large population.