Rashid says he owes a great deal to Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi, Khawaja Safdar


ISLAMABAD   -  Federal Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Sunday backtracked from his accusation against the PML-Q leadership of blackmailing saying he considers PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujat Hussain like a brother and will never make any statement against him.

Speaking at the Women Business Forum here, the minister said his remarks were “general” and not directed towards any particular party.

Reacting to Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s statement issued on Sunday, PML-Q leader Chaudhry Moonis Elahi tweeted, “Thank you Sheikh Sb for clearing the misunderstanding. I also respect you in the same way as you respect my elders.”

The minister’s clarification came a day after he accused the PML-Q of “blackmailing the government with five votes for the post of the chief minister of Punjab”, resulting in a strong backlash from the PML-Q. He was apparently referring to the media reports that the PML-Q – a key ally of the PTI both in the Centre and Punjab – was demanding of the government to replace Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar with Parvez Elahi in return for support to the no-confidence motion against the PM.

Sh Rashid said he made the comments in a lighter vein but it got people from the PML-Q offended. “I did not name PML-Q or Chaudhrys… it was just a general comment,” he said and added “Shujat is my brother… may Allah give him health. I will never speak against him,” he added.

Speaking further about his ties with Chaudhrys of Gujrat, Sh Rashid said he owed a great deal to Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi and Khawaja Safdar. He said when he was imprisoned in a ‘false’ murder case, Shujat’s mother used to send him meals.

“I have already written these things in my books,” Rashid added. He said the federal government wanted to take its allies along, adding that in testing times, friends should stick to each other.

The minister further said the premier was not going anywhere and will complete his five-year term. After March 15, the position of Imran will be clearer, he said, adding that he will stand with the prime minister like a rock. He said March 23-30 is an important week.

He added that it was the prerogative of the National Assembly speaker to convene the session. He asserted that the ruling of the speaker cannot be challenged. He agreed to a question that the country was going towards “anarchy” instead of “democracy”. He urged the political parties to lower the tension and reduce the bitterness.

Speaking about the rallies announced by the PTI and the opposition ahead of the no-trust vote, he said the ministry will decide about the venue if needed. The minister reiterated that he will crush those who would take the law in their hands. Rashid said he has summoned FC and Rangers for protection of the MPs and will summon the military under Article 245 if a situation arises.

Sh Rashid said that the NA Speaker would call a session of the lower house on the opposition’s no-confidence resolution against the premier after March 15. “The speaker has to decide when to call the session. He will decide after the 15th [since] there is the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) conference on the 21st and 22nd of March,” Rashid said.

The interior minister also warned any militia marching into Islamabad and said anyone attempting to do so would be trampled. His remarks were in the context of the recent operation carried out against JUI-F’s Ansaral Islam force in the Parliament Lodges days back.