Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader Jahangir Khan Tareen, who is under fire over his alleged involvement in the sugar crisis, has questioned the criteria behind the audit of his nine sugar mills and the selection process by the committee formed to probe the matter.
The PTI leader said that he does not object to the audit of his sugar mills under the committee. “Will the commission discover the reality behind all the sugar mills in Pakistan after conducting an audit of the nine mills?” said the businessman.
1) What was the criteria used to select 9 mills for the forensic audit?
2) Does the commission believe that by doing a forensic audit of 9 sugar mills only, they can get a complete picture of the total sugar industry of Pakistan, which has 80 sugar mills?
— Jahangir Khan Tareen (@JahangirKTareen) April 10, 2020
Journalist Meher Bokhari also raised some important questions. “The mills (owned by strong political influence yielding families & sitting ministers) with most exports & subsidies availed have been excluded from the forensic audit report,” she asked.
The mills (owned by strong political influence yielding families & sitting ministers) with most exports & subsidies availed have been excluded from forensic audit report@ShazadAkbar @PTIofficial #Sugarcrisis pic.twitter.com/0H2dHqhpHo
— Meher Bokhari (@meherbokhari) April 10, 2020
It is important to note that earlier this year, following the shortage of wheat flour in the country and the subsequent price hike, sugar had also gone missing from the market. Taking notice of the situation, the prime minister had formed a committee to find out those responsible for the crises.
On last Saturday, the inquiry report on sugar crisis had named Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader Jahangir Khan Tareen, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s (PML-Q) Moonis Elahi and Bakhtiar’s relative as the beneficiaries of the price hike.
On Sunday, PM Imran had said that he was waiting for the detailed forensic report, slated to come out on April 25, before taking any action against those responsible.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday reshuffled the federal cabinet which saw Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar being replaced by Syed Fakhar Imam as the federal minister for national food security.
Bakhtiar has instead been given the charge for the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Bakhtiar has replaced Hammad Azhar, who has been made the federal minister for industries. Industries were being overlooked by Abdul Razak Dawood, an adviser to the prime minister on commerce, textile, industries and production and investment. No update has yet been issued on whether Dawood’s role has changed after Azhar’s appointment.
“No longer close to Imran Khan”
Tareen acknowledged in a TV show on Monday that he was no longer as close to Prime Minister Imran Khan as he used to be but maintained that the premier was still his friend and that he continues to stand by the PM’s cause.
“I’m in touch with Imran Khan on WhatsApp and that is likely to continue. I have no issues with him, the party or his vision for the country. As prime minister, it’s his discretion to work with whoever he wants. I have no bitterness with his decision making. He is the prime minister of Pakistan, after all,” Tareen said during the show.
He also acknowledged that he has a long-running conflict with Azam Khan, PM Imran’s principal secretary. “When we came into power, I had a different vision on how to govern the country. He (Azam Khan) has a different one. I had told Azam Khan that the government’s job was not to enact incremental change but to transform the entire country,” Tareen said.
“Azam Khan disagrees with my vision for the country because he realises that enacting a transformative agenda would leave him powerless. I have always been against bureaucratic hurdles,” Tareen explained, alleging that Azam Khan was behind the FIA investigation against him.
The sugar baron also revealed that a vast majority of the prime minister’s cabinet agreed with his vision of the country. “I think 70 per cent of his cabinet agrees with what I say. But the prime minister fully trusts Azam Khan. But he also knows me. He knows the kind of man I am. He knows I get things done,” Tareen said.
Analysts believe that anti-JKT lobby is not being led by Azam Khan rather some senior PTI’s ministers are behind the campaign to sideline him. A senior PTI leader spoke to GVS and maintained that “a group from Punjab does not want JKT in PTI and now it is up to the prime minister who has to take the decision,” he said.
“But we all remember, and should never forget,” he suggested, “that JKT has done a tremendous job for the party”. It is to be seen whether the premier reviews his ‘changed’ views about JKT or not.