LAHORE - Former caretaker chief minister of Punjab Najam Sethi has shrugged off rigging allegations leveled against him by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf TI Chairman Imran Khan during year general election of 2013.
“Imran Khan many times accused me of applying ‘35 punctures,’ as chief minister I helped rig 35 seats but yet never given any proof of his allegations,” he said. Clarifying Imran Khan's allegations of the sweeping changes in the Punjab administration that were affected during his caretaker period were a shame as he did not change four secretaries in the administration.
Sethi said that he changed 28 out of about 30 secretaries. But did not change the education secretary because, on the request of the UK High Commissioner to Pakistan. “I did not want to disrupt the UK Education Aid programme worth $500 million earmarked for Punjab,” he said.
Sethi said he did not change the home secretary because Home Minister Tariq Pervez recommended him as an upright and efficient officer. Likewise, he did not change the health secretary, despite objections from the PML-N that his real sister was contesting on a PTI ticket from a Lahore constituency, because he was handling the measles epidemic in the province.
Moreover, he said he did not change the finance secretary because new chief secretary Javed Iqbal whom was brought in from Islamabad because of honesty and efficiency. The father-in-law of the same secretary was also contesting election from the PTI seat. On one hand, Imran Khan had eulogised Javed Iqbal, the then caretaker chief secretary, and Rao Iftikhar, caretaker additional chief secretary as honest officers but, on the other hand, he alleged they and he (Sethi) somehow helped rig the election, he said.
Sethi made it crystal clear to Imran Khan that at every stage of the caretaker administration he responded to his (Imran) complaints and he praised him for his neutrality. Commenting on the chairmanship of Pakistan Cricket Board being awarded to him by the prime minister, Sethi said, "the (PCB) job was a punishment because I did not receive a single 'penny' in salary and even returned the car allowance given to me."
He said he never got tax written off from the government or the FBR rather he was atop among the highest taxpayers in the media. Sethi explained that Imran Khan had a personal grudge with him when he (Sethi) published a humorous column about the latter sometimes back in his weekly newspaper.