LAHORE: The former (sacked by Imran Khan) Punjab governor and PTI leader Chaudhry Sarwar on Sunday heavily criticised the PTI leadership and former chief minister Usman Buzdar, saying he begged the party leadership to not make him do “unconstitutional” acts.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore hours after he was sacked, Sarwar termed the appointment of Buzdar, who recently resigned from his position as chief minister, as the “biggest conspiracy”.
The former governor, according to Dawn report, began his presser by recalling how he had visited constituencies and organised rallies ahead of the 2018 general elections. Following Imran Khan’s election as prime minister, there were several options for the office of chief minister of Punjab, including Aleem Khan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and himself, he said.
But the prime minister believed that only Usman Buzdar could build the Naya Pakistan and other party leaders compromised, he said.
“We said that we want to build Naya Pakistan and if Imran Khan thinks Usman Buzdar can do that, we are with him. But the entire country saw that chaos [subsequently] ensued in Punjab. Workers across Pakistan, federal [cabinet] members, [people] from Europe to the United Kingdom questioned if this was the Pakistan we voted for.”
Sarwar also criticised the appointments of inspector generals of police and deputy commissioners, saying that party leaders had tolerated it all because of PM Imran.
“Imran Khan was on one side and the PTI on the other,” he said. Referring to the party’s claims that the no-confidence resolution against PM Imran was a “foreign conspiracy”, Sarwar said: “If there is an international conspiracy … the biggest conspiracy was making Usman Buzdar chief minister.”
Removal as Punjab governor
Earlier today, the federal government removed Chaudhry Sarwar from his post as Punjab governor, appointing Omer Sarfraz Cheema as his replacement.
The announcement also came hours before a crucial session of the National Assembly on the no-confidence motion against PM Imran as well as a sitting of the Punjab Assembly to elect a new leader of the house following Buzdar’s resignation.
It was not immediately clear why the federal government decided to remove Sarwar and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry, who announced the development on Twitter, did not provide a reason.
During his press conference today, Sarwar claimed that he was “forced to leave” because of his resistance to the government’s attempts to summon the Punjab Assembly session on a specific date.
Re-iterating his criticism of the former chief minister, Sarwar said people wanted Buzdar’s removal but PM Imran “only focused” on his choice while ignoring people who were elected on the PTI’s ticket.
He termed the situation “shameful”, claiming that Buzdar had “blackmailed and disrespected” PM Imran.
“They (the PTI) are alleging that I was deliberately delaying the Punjab Assembly [session] and was double-dealing on the opposition’s orders,” he said.
The former governor said he had met PM Imran twice who told him to call the session after April 3 (today). However, I did not inform PML-Q’s PTI-backed Chaudhry Parvez Elahi because the talk with the premier was an “amanat (secret)” with me, he added.
As a result, the PML-Q’s Chaudhrys were “unhappy” with him, he said.
Sarwar said that subsequently, he was instructed to accept Buzdar’s resignation and call an urgent session of the Punjab Assembly on April 2. He then went to the prime minister, he said, adding that other PTI members were also present during the meeting where he was told that he would have to accept the resignation.
“Pervez Khattak came to me with a piece of paper that said an assembly session should be called on April 2. I begged them not to make me do this sin in the dark of the night. I was ready to resign but I could not [do] these unconstitutional things.”
Sarwar claimed that Elahi also visited him later to tell him it was important to hold elections before April 2 or he would not win. He added that he again went to the premier to express his reservations about Buzdar.
“I did the signatures in the dark of the night and they sacked me immediately,” he said, adding, “Pakistan is in a difficult phase right now.”
He also shared that he had tried to resign at least 10 times in the last three years, saying he wanted to leave in peace as he “could not do the politics of ‘foul language'”.
“Even for a day PTI workers did not feel like they were in power. We were stronger in the opposition. I received a call last night and they (PTI members) told me to dissolve the assembly if Elahi does not win. But I said that I will do anything the PM says except for things that are unconstitutional.”
Addressing the government’s claim of a “foreign conspiracy” once again, Sarwar said, “For God’s sake, don’t bring international politics into domestic politics.”