Home Global Village Qureshi-Tareen tirade: What is the master plan?

Qureshi-Tareen tirade: What is the master plan?

News Analysis |

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Vice Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Foreign Minister of Pakistan, has requested Jahangir Khan Tareen, party’s former secretary-general, not to attend cabinet meetings to avoid ‘unnecessary’ criticism. Mr. Shah was speaking to a press conference on Monday when he said, “I would ask my brother [Tareen] to think about this: when you participate in government meetings, it gives [PML-N’s] Marriyum Aurangzeb an opportunity to hold a presser and call into question if this [your presence in meetings] is not contempt of court?”

Mr. Tareen, a friend of Prime Minister Imran Khan, was disqualified by the Supreme Court in December 2017 for misdeclaration under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution. He has been disqualified for life, therefore, he is ineligible to hold any public office or position in the party. Although the PTI accepted the decision yet Mr. Tareen made it clear that he was disqualified over some technical points which, in his view, were negligible. Mr. Tareen recently attended a cabinet meeting and shared his ‘experience’ with ministers to guide them in making policies. His presence in the cabinet meeting was severely criticized by the PML-N lawmakers.

In all honesty, the person being flagged unwittingly by SMQ for contempt of the SC of Pakistan probably should be Imran Khan. It is his cabinet. He is the Chief Executive. The cabinet meeting is convened by Khan as Prime Minister.

After Mr. Shah’s comments, PTI’s former general secretary tweeted that “There’s only one man in my life whom I consider my leader & to whom I’m answerable. His name is Imran Khan. I’ve stood by his side through thick and thin and will continue to do so till my last breath, IA. What others may say for their own strange reasons does not concern me.”

Legal Questions

After Mr. Shah’s comments and Mr. Tareen’s response, a new debate concerning the scope and limits of the Supreme Court’s decision broke out on social media. Prominent lawyer Taimur Malik pointed out that “today’s events highlight the need for the Supreme Court of Pakistan to clarify, reconcile and clearly determine the consequences of disqualification/conviction in different circumstances. Non-disclosure based technical knockouts can’t be at [the] same level as criminal convictions.”

He went on saying that “the recent cases (Nawaz Sharif, Jahangir Tareen, Sheikh Rasheed, Kh Asif, Iftikhar Cheema) leave much to be clarified. The Supreme Court has the power and duty to provide clarity and there can’t be a one size fits all approach.”

PTI Leaders’ Response

PTI’s lawmakers also stepped in and defended Mr. Tareen for his selfless efforts to help the party.  Pervez Khattak, defense minister, said that “Jahangir Tareen has immense contribution for PTI. His loyalty with PTI is exemplary. He lives in the hearts of party workers. People need to keep their emotions under control or be ready to face the music. Everyone is answerable to only one man in the party & that is Imran Khan.”

Awn Chaudhry, the adviser to CM Punjab, also praised Mr. Tareen for his efforts and contributions saying “as a PTI activist, I have learnt a lot from Jahangir Khan Tareen. His services for Pakistan and PTI are unparalleled. Pakistan needs him now more than ever. His necessary presence in official meetings always adds to the effectiveness of the matter and doesn’t create any controversy.”

Faisal Vawda, Federal Minister for Water Resources, boldly defended Mr. Tareen and said that “JKT sits in official meetings on the insistence of cabinet members including myself. He has selflessly done a lot for the party, we respect him as a senior colleague &learn from his expertise. Nobody in the party can DICTATE us, PM is our leader & we take instructions from him only.

Expert Opinion

GVS approached a Lahore-based lawyer to comment on the development who, on the condition of anonymity, said that “Shah Mehmood Qureshi tirade against JKT Jahangir Khan Tareen today is not only totally uncalled for, it may well be unwitting and self-defeating if deconstructed dispassionately.

Read more: Why Jahangir Tareen’s unwavering commitment to ‘Naya Pakistan’ is commendable?

Firstly, it has come several days after the cabinet meeting in question. Had it been such a big moral issue with Qureshi or the nonexistent workers that he referred to, SMQ should have walked out of the cabinet meeting there and then. As to how and why has it become a moral, ethical, and political issue ‘Now’ is itself very questionable.

Secondly, by asserting that such participation has violated CJP’s judgment on 61F and SCP may hold someone in contempt then that person cannot at least be JKT. In all honesty, the person being flagged unwittingly by SMQ for contempt of the SC of Pakistan probably should be Imran Khan. It is his cabinet. He is the Chief Executive. The cabinet meeting is convened by Khan as Prime Minister. It is he who decides who is invited to come to brief the cabinet.

It is yet to be seen how Prime Minister Imran Khan reacts to the development and deal with Mr. Shah who has apparently violated set decorum political parties generally follow.

JKT does not hold any office in government and can in no conceivable way take or influence any executive decision about the cabinet meeting. Is Qureshi’s naming Tareen in a possible contempt as an afterthought actually a clumsy effort to try to implicate Khan in a legal controversy before the SC of Pakistan? Only Qureshi can explain as to where actually he was coming from today and why choose a public presser for it?

Thirdly, and more importantly, had Qureshi had genuine concerns as to the illegality or contemptuous nature of Tareen’s attendance and briefing to the cabinet then considering his decades-long acumen of government business he would have sensitized Khan about his concerns in private than choose to go public with the matter after passage of weeks when the matter had already died down without making any legal issue with any court in Pakistan.

As to what is Qureshi up to exactly only he could possibly know. But today’s tirade is certainly not out of concern for the judgement of the SC of Pakistan, or 61F or maybe even Tareen. His master plan may be to drag Tareen into such controversy so as to bring down the Captain actually.”

Read more: Imran Khan must put an end to the unethical reign of…

It is yet to be seen how Prime Minister Imran Khan reacts to the development and deal with Mr. Shah who has apparently violated set decorum political parties generally follow.