ISLAMABAD - The war of words between the ruling PML-N and PPP on delay in extension of Rangers’ stay in Karachi got intensified yesterday with the latest uproar of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan who not only blamed the latter for its involvement in corruption cases but also hit at its senior leader Syed Khursheed Shah.

The minister in a statement reminded the PPP about the alleged involvement of its leaders in corruption cases like EOBI (Employees’ Old Age Benefits Institution), TDAP (Trade Development Authority of Pakistan), PIA and Sui gas companies and also alleged Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and senior PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah for getting ‘behind the scene’ benefits from the federal government.

The remarks from the senior PML-N leader and a key minister can put the federal government in deep trouble as PPP is the major opposition party in both the houses of the parliament.

Nisar while addressing a press conference here on Saturday had said that the PPP-led Sindh government was not extending stay of Rangers in Karachi just only to save one man, Dr Asim Hussain. Syed Khursheed Shah in his Sunday’s media talk said that if Nisar be given in the custody of any security agencies for 15 days, he will confess all crimes of the country. He had said that only Sindh was being criticised in the name of corruption. The other PPP leaders including Sindh government advisor Moula Bukhsh Chandio had also reacted to the interior minister’s remarks alleging him for tearing the constitution into pieces.

“Some people are using politics and Sindh to conceal their sins,” Nisar said in his latest statement adding that when some state institutions hold them responsible, they co-relate it with an attack on Sindh. “Neither any institution not federal government had attacked Sindh, but it was under attack from those people who have occupied its resources, wealth and lands from the last many years and eating it like termite,” he said.

While directly hitting at the PPP, he said that a book could be written on the corruption cases of PPP from EOBI scam to TDAP and Sui gas companies scandal to PIA. Even they did not spare the Haj and Umrah and worst corruption was committed into these affairs during the last PPP regime.

The minister launched an attack on Syed Khursheed Shah and said, “If I narrate his performance during the last two-and-a-half years, he will get no place to hide his face”. “Those people who on one side condemn the government in NA and on the other side get benefits from it of recruitments, transfers, extensions and perks and privileges, what can I say about their character,” he said adding that the perks and privileges given to Shah had a long list that remind him then opposition leader of Field Marshal Ayub Khan regime. “The opposition leader of that time used to oppose and support the government simultaneously to get benefits,” he said.

“I only want to clarify my position to the extent that as opposition leader during the last regime I never contacted then PMs Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf to get personal favour besides having personal contacts with them,” he said and added both the former premiers were witness to this.

While clarifying about his other day’s press conference, the interior minister said, “It had become inevitable because the matter of extension of Rangers’ stay was being delayed despite assurances and meetings of last three weeks and Rangers was being made controversial because of only one man”. He said that he as interior minister thought that the facts should be presented before the masses so that not only people of Karachi but also the masses of whole Pakistan and all political parties would take its ownership of this Rangers-led operation in the metropolitan city. The Sindh government reacted to this and started giving statements against him (Nisar), he said

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, while answering different points raised by PPP about the Karachi operation, said that contrary to its claims that federal government was not spending a penny on the operation, it was bearing expenses of Rs 9 billion annually being incurred on Rangers. The expenses of federal intelligence agencies working in Sindh are in addition to this. “However, the federal government will not give money for the armoured personnel carrier (APC) vehicles imported from Serbia that were costly than that of US and then police head of the province had refused to sign the agreement,” he made a joke to PPP. That police officer was removed after his denial, he said.

Nisar contradicted that deployment of Rangers was a pure provincial matter and said, “The federal government started Rangers operation in Karachi and it was a federal force.” Besides this, the Supreme Court had clear directions to the federal and Sindh governments for this operation.

He said that director FIA Karachi had met with Chief Minister Sindh in the presence of Commissioner Karachi under his (Nisar) directions after an objection on it was raised in July and the matters were resolved. After this, the Sindh government never objected to any of its actions. Even after this it was alleged that FIA was interfering in the matters of Sindh.

The minister reminded that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) did not act under the directions of federal government and it was illogical to relate any of anti-corruption activities with the federal government. Some people of MQM, JI, ANP and Sunni Tehreek were arrested in the past during the operation but no one raised questions about the operation before this,” he said. This had stopped the pace of operation.

“I once again will say that we should look forward in the larger interest of Karachi, Sindh and Pakistan and let move the Rangers led operation in Karachi in a positive way,” he concluded and said that he was responding this in his personal capacity and no one could stop him from doing this. He also said that this debate should be limited to logic and facts.