[Daily Times 25 November 2019] Former interior minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stalwart Ahsan Iqbal on Sunday alleged that Prime Minister Imran Khan hid 23 bank accounts from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and millions of dollars in them.

“He [Imran Khan] should not hide. He should present receipts,” said Ahsan. “The nation wants to know why he hid 23 bank accounts from the ECP. He should be held accountable about the millions of dollars he took.” Ahsan said that he who was calling other people thieves and crooks himself turned out to be a corrupt person. Ahsan also lashed out at the government, blaming Imran Khan and his cabinet members for making the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects controversial.

The former interior minister said that misunderstandings would not have been created if the prime minister and members of his cabinet had not given irresponsible comments about the CPEC projects.

“Irresponsible statements from the PTI have already made matters worse,” he was quoted as saying. “The government should refrain from giving unverified statistics on CPEC projects.” He said that the government had been wrong in stating that the total amount of loans taken from China was $18 billion. He also said that without a doubt this was not a loan for Pakistan but a relaxation. “The total amount of loans taken from China amount to $5.8 billion,” said Ahsan. “All energy projects are in the form of investment,” he added. Chinese Ambassador to China, Yao Jing, on Friday rejected US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Alice Wells’ recent statement regarding CPEC, saying that Beijing will never force Islamabad to make timely payments of its debt, unlike the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “If Pakistan is in need, China would never ask it to repay its loans in time,” said Jing.

Meanwhile, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif criticised US envoy Alice Wells’ statement, stating that her statement about the CPEC showed her ignorance of the project. Taking to Twitter, Shehbaz said that his party rejected Wells’ criticism and dubbed it ‘ill-founded’. “As someone who was closely associated with negotiation process, I must say that CPEC envisions a community of shared interests,” he tweeted.

Shehbaz heaped praise on China by stating that Pakistan’s ‘Iron Brother’ was an all-weather friend and ally. On the other hand, a multi-party conference has been called by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to decide on the next course of action in the anti-government campaign by the opposition, his spokesperson told a private news channel on Sunday.

The conference, to which a total of nine parties have been invited, will be held in Islamabad on Tuesday and hosted by the JUI-F chief.

Among those personally invited by Rehman are PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) Chairman Mehmood Khan Achakzai.

Among the other parties invited are Awami National Party (ANP), Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan (JUP) and Jamiat Ahle Hadith.

According to JUI-F sources, Fazl will brief the attendees on ‘Plan A’ and ‘Plan B’ of the ‘Azadi March’. Furthermore, he will take them into confidence over “secret talks held to bring an end to the government”.

“He will inform the opposition members on how the government’s roots shall be cut,” said the sources.

From the PML-N, a four-member delegation led by Raja Zafarul Haq will participate in the conference, said Ahsan Iqbal. This will include Iqbal himself, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, and Amir Muqam.

The delegation was formed after consultation with PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, said Iqbal.

The anti-government campaign by the opposition, which started with a long march led by JUI-F on October 27 from Karachi to Islamabad and was followed by a two-week-long sit-in in the capital, was called off on November 13 apparently on the assurance of “powers that be”.