LAHORE - Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad yesterday claimed that former president Asif Ali Zardari would start returning the looted wealth to the PTI-led government very soon. He went on to say that the PPP leader would sign plea-bargain within three to four months and then all corruption cases against him would be closed.

The minister stated this while addressing a press conference at Railways Headquarters in Lahore. According to him, the corruption cases being probed by the National Accountability Bureau against Asif Ali Zardari were very important. Thus, these cases would be settled through plea-bargain only, he believed.

Sh Rashid also said the cases against PPP leader Khursheed Shah, PML-N leaders Hamza Shehbaz and Salman Shehbaz were also very important and these would also be settled only through plea-bargain with NAB. They all will be out of jail in a few months but after returning the looted public money through plea bargain, he said.

Minister says demand of PM’s resignation unconstitutional

Commenting on the permission granted by the government to former PM Nawaz Sharif for medical treatment abroad, the minister said that the decision was based on necessity of political ideology. However, he prayed for the fast recovery of ailing Nawaz Sharif. He also said that government’s decision to remove former premier Nawaz Sharif’s name from the exit control list was taken on medical grounds.

Rashid also explained that former PM Nawaz Sharif had been given bail and the cases against him were not closed. He further said PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz will not be going abroad with her father because her passport had been submitted in the court.

The minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan gave relief to ailing Nawaz Sharif for his medical treatment abroad on humanitarian grounds. He said that an air ambulance is ready in Qatar for Nawaz Sharif. The minister said Shehbaz Sharif would also go abroad with Nawaz Sharif. But, Maryam Nawaz would not be able to go with her father. Responding to a question about future politics of the largest political parties, he said only Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Maryam Nawaz Sharif will be left to lead their parties – the PPP and PML-N.

When asked about the sit-in protest of JUI-F in Islamabad, the minister said that demands of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman were illogical and unconstitutional. The JIU-F had been demanding PM Imran Khan to step down over alleged rigging in elections.

Sh Rashid also said that Maulana Fazl should realise the pain and sufferings of his workers who were sitting in the open in the cold weather. He said that Fazl was unable to form his government in the country because his party had won only 15 seats in the National Assembly.

The minister also said that staging a sit-in was more difficult than going to jail. He said that the political parties who wanted to cash in on JUI-F’s sit-in had actually done their job.

On opening of Kartarpur Corridor, he said Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had defeated Indian leadership by opening Kartarpur.

About decision of Indian Supreme Court on Babri Mosque, he said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation for Indian’s destruction by getting the court decision in favour of Ram Mandar.

When asked about the recent Tezgam train tragedy that left 75 people dead, the minister said that the DNA tests of all the deceased persons had been completed. He said at least 19 officials including police had been suspended from service on the charges of criminal negligence. He said the railways police were directed to intensify checking of the trains in order to stop the transportation of oil stove in passenger coaches.

At least 75 people were burnt alive and dozens others wounded when huge fire engulfed three coaches of the Tezgam train in district Rahim Yar Khan, last month. Reportedly, the fire broke out when a gas canister that some passengers were using to prepare breakfast exploded in the moving train.

Following this tragic incident, all major opposition parties had demanded resignation of railways minister but he simply refused to do so.