Hardly a fortnight passed since the ‘free flour scheme’ ended that talks of corruption have started making rounds.
And, the allegations have been made by none other than the senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. However, the estranged leader did not stop there. Mr Abbasi went on to say that the present cabinet comprised of people who did not have any ability. In other words, they were an incompetent lot.
The former prime minister was speaking at a seminar on ‘Reimagining Pakistan’ held at the Government College University in Lahore. The seminar was part of ‘The Great Debate 2023’ which focused on the ills the country was suffering from. The other speaker at the event was none other than Miftah Ismail, another estranged PML-N leader and former finance minister.
These two political mavericks, along with Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, who was earlier associated with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), have been addressing a series of seminars throughout the country, with an aim to developing a consensus on the future course of action to bring the country out of the present quagmire.
Addressing the seminar, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi blamed the current leadership for the failure of all systems and institutions to trespass on constitutional limits.
About the free flour distribution program, the former prime minister alleged that Rs20 billion was looted in this scheme.
“Recently, Rs84bn worth of [free] flour was distributed. I am sorry to say that approximately Rs20bn was looted,” Mr Abbasi said.
This allegation was serious, and it invited a reaction from the caretaker setup.
In a statement, the caretaker provincial information minister, Amir Mir, termed the allegations “false and fabricated.”
He claimed that those who were making these allegations were damaging their credibility, saying that the programme had become a target “due to the internal political differences within the PML-N”.
He called on Mr Abbasi to either apologise or provide evidence of corruption.
These rhetorics of both Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Miftah Ismail are getting louder and to an extent, damaging for their parent party. It just shows that the rift is getting wider.
It seems like history is at it again. We have seen many big names part ways with their parent parties. The PML-N saw stalwarts like Makhdoom Javed Hashmi and Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who were almost second in command after Nawaz Sharif, go their own way. Though they have vanished into oblivion, they did not stick with the party just for the sake of it.
And, it is not just the PML-N. The PPP, too, has faced dissent. The most recent case has been that of Latif Khosa, who did not agree with a certain aspect of his party policy and openly opposed it, though with consequences. The party’s leadership did not like what it heard, and Khosa ended up losing a prominent position in the People’s Lawyers Forum.
Whatever Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Miftah Ismail are saying is right, and maybe they are seriously concerned about the current state of affairs, but would their voices bring a change?