After Panamagate, The ruling party PML-N has been bombarded with yet another scandal as one more member of the federal cabinet, Ahsan Iqbal, who oversees the $54 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, is found to be a holder of Iqama (work permit) of Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Iqbal is now the fourth cabinet member to have held a foreign work permit, the others being Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, holders of Iqama of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Reportedly, Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning and Development, obtained Iqama from a Medina-based firm.
Since this revelation, he has not answered any direct queries of media outlets.
“I worked in Medina Munawarah 2004-06 afterwards retained Iqama without receiving any compensation for frequent travel hence no illegal act,”
However, according to the media reports, he has confirmed that he held the kingdom’s work/residence permit for two years.
“I worked in Medina Munawarah 2004-06 afterwards retained Iqama without receiving any compensation for frequent travel hence no illegal act,” he wrote in a Twitter message.
In response to these allegations, a spokesman for the planning and development ministry issued a statement on Wednesday saying that Mr. Iqbal had served as an adviser to the governor of Medina from 2004 to 2006 on a digital economy project.
The statement claimed that the minister had not taken any salary for the project since 2006, adding that he had declared his Iqama in his ‘documents’ in 2013.
The spokesman said Mr. Iqbal was not doing business in any foreign country and after the expiry of his Iqama it was not renewed.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan termed dual-office holding by federal cabinet members a ‘criminal enterprise’ and said that they were ‘criminals of the nation’.
“Have you ever seen in a democracy that a prime minister of a country serves as a sale manager after getting Iqama? Similarly, we heard that Defense Minister Khawaja has Iqama of another Gulf state,” the PTI chief said at a press conference on Wednesday.
The PTI chief labeled Mr. Iqbal a ‘pseudo intellectual’ and ‘Aristotle of PML-N’, he said the minister also tried to hide his ‘corruption’ behind Islam that was why he got Iqama of Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Khan said his party had decided to bring all Iqama-holder cabinet members to a court of law. “Our leaders Usman Dar and Firdous Ashiq Awan, who better know the background of Khawaja Asif, will soon file a petition against him,” he said.
PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry, in a separate statement, said: “It is sad that Nawaz Sharif, who is prime minister of Pakistan, is also serving as a marketing manager in the UAE. Khawaja Asif, who is our defense minister and handles all security forces of the country, is a Munshi (record keeper) of a UAE-based firm. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who runs the country’s finances, is also an employee of a firm in the UAE, and Ahsan Iqbal, who is the country’s planning minister and supervising CPEC, is a security guard of a Medina-based firm.”
“After Panamagate, a new scandal of Iqamas has been unearthed and it is quite shameful for the nation that our rulers keep dual offices and are serving on petty positions in Arab states.”
“Have you ever seen in a democracy that a prime minister of a country serves as a sale manager after getting Iqama? Similarly, we heard that Defense Minister Khawaja has Iqama of another Gulf state,”
The PTI spokesman said ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders obtained work permits of foreign countries not to get jobs but to have a back door ‘escape way’ when they would not be in power and could be made accountable for their wrongdoings.
In light of these allegations, Mr. Iqbal took to twitter and gave a ‘spiritual twist to these revelations saying “For anyone who is blessed 2 live & work in Madinah it is a natural desire to keep Madinah resident status for as long as 1 can. No regrets”
For anyone who is blessed 2 live & work in Madinah it is a natural desire to keep Madinah resident status for as long as 1 can. No regrets
— Ahsan Iqbal (@betterpakistan) July 25, 2017