Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhry, said politics is not for the “weak-hearted” vowing to stay on as minister till he has the confidence of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“I will stay on as a minister till I have the trust of Prime Minister Imran Khan. There is no question of resigning on someone else’s wish,” tweeted Chaudhry on Thursday, referring indirectly to Punjab information minister Fayyaz Chohan who had asked the science and technology minister to step down.
Fawad has reportedly been criticised by party members after he disclosed in a Voice of America interview that PM Imran had warned his ministers to perform within six months and spoken openly about infighting within the PTI between Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Jahangir Tareen and Asad Umar.
Najeeb Haroon throws weight behind Chaudhry
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founding member Najeeb Haroon threw his weight behind Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry over his comments regarding divisions in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet.
“Fawad Chaudhry was with the government since day one. What Fawad Chaudhry is saying I think must be correct,” said Haroon in a conversation with Geo News show Geo Pakistan.
The lawmaker from Karachi, who recently tendered his resignation from the National Assembly, said Chaudhry was leading in “important issues” and has more information. However, he clarified that the party revolved around Imran Khan and the people’s expectations were from him.
“In the party, not only Wasim Akram plus but plus two people are also part of it,” Haroon said, adding that he hoped the prime minister finds the ability to recognise the right people and does what’s better for the country.
Fawad Chaudhry speaks about PTI infighting in latest interview
The difference between the cabinet and the spotlight on Fawad Chaudhry has emerged after the minister minister in an interview said that infighting between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Planning Minister Asad Umar and PTI leader Jahangir Tareen has had an adverse impact on the party and has been one of the main reasons behind Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision not going according to plan.
“There were a lot of expectations from PTI and Imran Khan,” Chaudhry had said in an interview with Sohail Warraich for Voice of America. “The public had not elected us or the prime minister to fix nuts and bolts but to reform the system.”
“When the Panama case was resolved I and few others had a chance to speak to Imran Khan and at that time I felt his ideas were very clear when it came to reforms,” he said.
The minister added, “The way he said the chief ministers had become dictators in Sindh and the finance commission award should be [implemented] along with police reforms and judicial reforms, it was very clear at that time what Imran Khan’s vision was.”
Chaudhry said that problems arose when the government was formed and differences between Umar, Tareen and Qureshi increased. “These differences pushed the entire political class out of the game altogether.”
“Consequently, when a political vacuum was created, it was filled by people who have nothing to do with politics,” he said.
The minister said that just having ideas is not enough, “you have to form a team which brings the ideas to fruition”.
“When Imran Khan’s core team was shaken, the new people to have replaced them were not in agreement with the [premier’s] ideas and still aren’t,” he said.
‘JKT had Asad Umar removed’
When asked why despite having the political might of Qureshi and Pervez Khattak in the Cabinet, things turned out the way they had, the science and technology minister said they tried to have Tareen and Umar reconcile their differences but it could not happen.
“When [Asad] Umar became the finance minister, [Jahangir] Tareen had him removed as the finance minister. Then when Umar came back [to the cabinet] he had Tareen removed. Similarly, Qureshi met Tareen to talk things over, but nothing could materialise,” Chaudhry said.
‘Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto appointed weak people’
Responding to a question about whether the prime minister did not get an experienced team or if his governance was faulty, Chaudhry said a team is chosen by the leader.
“I myself am surprised [over what has transpired]. There is no leader like Imran Khan in the Muslim world. The Turkish leadership is unacceptable to the West, the Saudi leadership is fraught with its own controversies, and Iran has its own problems. Imran Khan is the only leader who has the capability to bring the Western and Muslim worlds together. But when there is weakness from within, the focus from such things is diverted,” he said.
Chaudhry said that Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto may have chosen weak people for important positions because ultimately their vision was to transfer power over to their children.
“They had no other vision,” Chaudhry said, adding that PM Imran did not have the same problem.
“The best people should have been [appointed to government positions],” he said.
The minister, without naming anyone, said that the suggestion to the premier to appoint “weak people” had costed him dearly.
Chaudhry attempts to walk back on statements
Later in the day, during a meeting of the federal cabinet, Chaudhry attempted to walk back on statements made during the interview following an uproar by members.
Geo News, citing sources, reported that Umar and Qureshi strongly opposed to the interview’s contents, with the premier reportedly chiding his party members to refrain from blowing the issue out of proportion.
According to the sources, Faisal Vawda also lashed out at Umar and Qureshi. “There is no doubt over the fact that you both have ambitions to become the prime minister,” he alleged, adding: “Your fights have caused a great deal of damage to the party.”
Meanwhile, in an attempt to defuse the situation, Chaudhry told everyone to listen to the full interview before drawing any conclusions.
“Sohail Warraich had asked for my analysis. My analysis was that the fight between these three members hurt the party.”