LAHORE    -   Former president Asif Ali Zardari’s partners in corruption are engaged in behind-the-scene talks with the government for a deal, claimed Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed here on Saturday.

“Mr Zardari’s team is making payments,” he said at his weekly news conference at the railways headquarters.

The minister said the former president was a generous person compared to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who he said was a ‘miser’. However, former chief minister Shehbaz Sharif was also trying to a strike a deal with the government.

The PML-N has been consistently denying that it is trying to strike a deal with the government.

PML-N leader Khwaja Asif was quoted as saying recently that the former prime minister was not in hurry to come out of jail. He said Mr Sharif wanted to clear himself of all charges.

Although Mr Kaira did not name the PML-N or its leaders but left no doubt who he was referring to when he said arrests could also be made in London.

Two sons and Samdhi of the incarcerated former prime minister Nawaz Sharif have been living in the British capital since long and they are not returning to Pakistan despite legal proceedings against them. They have already been declared absconders.

He dismissed as baseless the assertion that CPEC was being packed up.

About the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir, Sheikh Rashid said Pakistan would extend full “political support” to the indigenous movement that would start from the state that was illegally annexed by India on Aug 5. But this doesn’t mean that people from Pakistan would cross into IOK to join the movement, he clarified.

“We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Kashmiri people in their struggle (for the right to self-determination)”.

He was appreciative of the prime minister for the efforts he was making to highlight the Kashmir dispute at the international level.

Regarding the ‘Azadi March’ and JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s plans to stage a sit-in in Islamabad in the last week of October, the minister claimed that both PPP and the PML-N would not support Maulana who remained chairman of the Kashmir Committee for about a decade.

Maulana has a different agenda and the PPP and PML-N cannot go with him, said Sheikh Rashid, one of senior leaders of Imran Khan-led coalition.

He said he had sent a message to the JUI-F chief through his Secretary General Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri about avoiding to make any miscalculation over future moves.

He said in categorical terms that Pakistan was extending fullest cooperation for peace in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Agencies add: He alleged that Fazlur Rehman was gathering people on Namoos-e-Risalat (sanctity of Holy Prophet) issue. He said he was also supporter of Namoos-e-Risalat (PBUH). “

“Fazl never went to any jail for protecting Namoos-e-Risalat (PBUH), but I remained in prison for the cause and it was me who fought for Namoos-e-Risalat (PBUH) in the assembly,” he added.

Sh Rashid predicted that Fazl would change the protest date and nothing would happen in the capital.

To a question, he said that he had good relations with Maulana and even his late father Maulana Mufti Mehmood.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had asked Pakistanis not to go to Indian-held Kashmir as “we support only Kashmiris’ own struggle for freedom from India”.

He said that the Railways Main Line-1 (ML-1) would be constructed and Kashmir freedom struggle would succeed soon. “No one can make any compromise on Kashmir and the propaganda in this regard is poisonous,” he added. The ML-1 is an important part of CPEC and it would be completed in the tenure of Imran Khan.

He said Hitler, dictator Mussolini and terrorist Narendra Modi all made blunders. He said now Kashmiri people would prove their bravery by raising a strong agitation against India. “People of Kashmir who earlier used stones will use something else in future,” he added.

The minister said that US President Donald Trump might play both sides of the field as a super power could have its own interests to watch, but he assured the nation that under the leadership of Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the case of Kashmir would be took to its ultimate end and Kashmiri people would get freedom.

The minister said that any decision about a war would be taken by the prime minister and the COAS; however, in case of any attack, the attacker would be destroyed completely. “Pakistan Army is ready to destroy the enemy of the country with support of the people,” he added.

Sh Rashid criticised the Srinagar High Court decision and termed it nothing more than “light music”.

About Iran, the minister expressed the hope that Imran Khan would meet the Iranian leader on the sidelines of the UNGA session. He said that the Muslim countries should work for peace and harmony among the Islamic nations.

Commenting on the current political situation, he said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif always kept his family in one-on-one talks with the Indian leadership, instead of engaging a foreign minister.

He said that PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif was good in holding talks, but Nawaz Sharif was a stubborn person and usually damages dialogue due to his inflexibility.

To a question about protest by traders, he said the government should hold dialogue with traders and they should be taken on board regarding taxes recovery.