Fazlur Rehman should be tried for high treason: PM Imran

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman should be tried for high treason under Article 6 of the Constitution on the basis of recent remarks made by the latter that suggested that he had conspired to de-seat the government.

The prime minister’s statement drew a strong reaction from Rehman’s son and the leader of the opposition, among others. 

The JUI-F chief had last week said that he had ended his Islamabad sit-in late last year after reaching an understanding with power brokers that the PTI-led government would soon be upturned. 

“Maulana Fazlur Rehman should be tried under Article 6 of the Constitution. There should be an inquiry into the remarks he made, and he should be asked who gave him that understanding,’ PM Imran was quoted as saying. 

‘Cartels control prices’

The statement came during an informal talk with the media hosted by the prime minister in Islamabad on Friday afternoon.  During his interaction with the journalists present, the premier talked about inflation, the food shortage crisis and corruption in the country. 

“There is a cartel in the country that controls the prices of commodities,” PM Imran reportedly told the people present. 

When he was asked about who controls these cartels and whether some close to him may be involved, the prime minister said: “The report of the inquiry into the wheat shortage crisis does not include the names of Jehangir Tareen or Khushro Bakhtiar.”

Referencing a recent decision of the government to hold off on a demand by the International Monetary Fund to increase electricity tariffs, the premier said that the government could not increase the prices of electricity any further.  “Negotiations with the IMF on the prices of electricity will soon be finalized,” he said.

‘Military agencies know who is doing what’

The prime minister also took a swipe at opposition politicians during his talk. 

“I am neither corrupt, nor am I in this [politics] to make money,” he said. He said that those who are corrupt and have looted the wealth of the country are afraid of the army. 

“Military agencies always know who is doing what,” he said.

Regarding election reforms, the premier told reporters that the government was in the process of introducing electoral reforms, which would include provisions for electronic voting and the biometric verification of voters. 

“Senate elections will not be held under secret ballot anymore,” he revealed.  “We will introduce a law that makes it mandatory to hold Senate elections by a show of hands,” the premier added. 

He also commented on the rumours that have been circulating regarding his government soon being shown the door. 

“The opposition talks about the government being toppled only to increase unity within their ranks. They are political mafias and they do not care about inflation, but rather about their own benefit only,” the prime minister said.

‘Opposition does not want government to succeed’

“I am running my personal affairs from my salary. I think I might have one of the lowest salaries of the chief executive of a country in the world,” the premier said. 

“One of our biggest successes has been saving the government from defaulting. The opposition does want to see us succeed, because our success means their business will shut down and they will go to jail,” the premier added.

Opposition reacts

The JUI-F’s Maulana Asad Mahmood hit back at PM Imran for seeking Article 6 proceedings against his father, Fazlur Rehman.

“Article 6 should be used against those who revealed state secrets in Iran,” Mahmood said in his address to the National Assembly. The lawmaker was making a reference to PM Imran’s statement on his maiden visit to Iran.

PM Imran, during his official visit, had resolved “not to allow any militant group to operate from Pakistan’s soil,” while acknowledging that such attacks had happened in the past.

Mahmood, in his reaction, went on to say that his party does not want to do what the government wants them to do (react to provocation).

“We will face all difficulties but will not let the Constitution be trampled upon,” Mahmood stated. 

He then directed his venom at the prime minister, saying he “was selected and will remain so”.

The JUI-F lawmaker added that his party should not be forced to take oaths to prove their patriotism to the country. 

Meanwhile, PML-N chief Shehbaz Sharif condemned the PM’s statement, describing Rahman as “the son of that great person who formed the Constitution.” 

“The prime minister should take a long hard look at himself before making such statements,” Sharif said. “It is a grave tragedy that all accidental leaders are unaware of [their own country’s] history.”