Saad Rafique warns govt to stop political victimization of opposition members

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Saad Rafique

ISLAMABAD: Urging an end to political victimisation of the opposition members, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Khawaja Saad Rafique on Friday lambasted NAB for using its “black law” to avenge people in the name of accountability.
While speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, in his first appearance at the Parliament since his arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in connection to a housing society scam earlier this month, Saad Rafique demanded an end to the “snakes and ladders game being played for the past 71 years” and called on the government to take all parties on board to uphold democracy.
He admitted that he was not satisfied with the transparency of accountability even during PML-N’s tenure, and said the “snake and ladders game” being played for the past 71 years needed to end.
“Honourable Speaker, allow me to say this, I’m not among [those] people who want PTI’s turn to come next,” he said, adding that he had “suspicion that some of your people will be [arrested] to balance out [political victimisation].”
“This isn’t [right]. Nobody should dare to force me to become an informer against my political opponents,” the former railways minister said.
“Sometimes we are declared traitors, sometimes we are labeled as anarchists. Who are these people who think of themselves as patriots and of others as traitors?” he questioned.
“We have suffered jail before also, it’s nothing new for us. But it’s our request to prevent others from facing the same [suffering]. When will this snakes and ladders game finish?”
Rafique called on all opposition parties, the government, the judiciary and the establishment to think with a cool mind as to in which direction they were taking Pakistan.
“Our real competition is not amongst ourselves, it’s against poverty, economic crisis,” he stressed.
The PML-N veteran warned that the country’s political temperature was heating up.
“If Asif Ali Zardari is arrested, then mark my words, the [political] tensions will worsen.
“It is our request, please evaluate the situation with a cool mind,” he urged, adding that the government should take all political parties on board to strengthen the charter of democracy.
Rafique was earlier brought to Islamabad from Lahore, after National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser issued a production order for him on Thursday.
Speaking to media outside the Parliament prior to the session, he lamented that his production order was issued after a delay of six days. However, he thanked the opposition parties for raising their voice for him over the matter.
Rafique is in NAB’s custody in connection to the Paragon Housing Society scam. The PML-N leader and his brother were arrested earlier this month after the Lahore High Court rejected their request for an extension in their pre-arrest bail in the case.
In the days following his arrest, the opposition staged a number of walkouts from the National Assembly in protest over delay in issuance of a production order for the PML-N leader.

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