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Rashid claims credit...

LAHORE: Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid made a startling claim on Saturday that PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif escaped arrest on Friday after he sent a message to the opposition leader in the National Assembly through some journalists.

`I insufflated (blow a prayer in the air) on Shahbaz and he escaped arrest. I also conveyed him a message through people like you,` he told reporters at a press conference on Saturday.

`I can clearly tell you that the cases against Shahbaz and his son Hamza are very serious. I had earlier toldyou Shahbaz will return to Lahore by March 20, and he did,` he added.

Mr Rashid claimed the opposition, especially the PML-N, believed that Imran Khan`s government would soon collapse due to the deteriorating economy and coronavirus. In this hope, Sharif returned from London. But the PML-N leader didn`t know the prime minister would be able to beautifully handle this situation, including convincing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to freeze loan payment, he maintained.

`He (PM Khan) has succeeded. Now let`s see if Shahbaz, who is presently out (of jail), is going out (back to London) or in (jail),` he stated.

He berated the Sindh government for criticising the federal government over the lockdown.

`I think this is not the time for this [criticising the government] as the country is facing the Covid-19 pandemic.

About the sugar and wheat crises, the minister said: `If he (Khan) can distance himself from his old friend Jahangir Tareen, imagine what will be the fate ofthose notsoclose to him and found involved in the scandal. The PM will not spare anyone (if foundinvolved), as far as I know,` he claimed.

He thanked the army chief for sending 3,000 ration bags for porters, who were currently jobless due to closure of train operation. `I have also asked the federal government to give Rs12,000 to each porter under the Ehsaas programme,` he said.

Mr Rashid said that on Sunday (today), the department would send a special relief train from Lahore to Chaman (Balochistan) with oxygen cylinders, sanitisers and other items on the request of the National Disaster Management Authority to help the authorities quarantine people at Pakistan-Afghan border.