In Conversation with Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah: “Allegations cannot break us”

Truth Tracker: Are you actually on Exit Control List (ECL)? Do you know why your name is placed on the ECL?

Murad Ali Shah: Yes, as far as I know I am on the ECL although I haven’t received such intimation from anywhere but what I read in newspapers, heard on TV and also according to federal ministers I am on the Exit Control List (ECL).

I have no idea why my name is placed on the ECL although I cannot go into the background as Supreme Court of Pakistan have stopped us from saying anything about Joint Investigation Team (JIT). But on the contrary, I could tell you that being on the ECL is not an issue for me but obviously if the chief executive of a province is on the ECL it gives a very negative connotation. But being on the ECL does not impact me as an individual because since the day I resumed charge as Chief Minister Sindh except for interim period during the by-elections when I travelled abroad on a recreational trip for 4-5 days other than that except for official tours, Umrah, Hajj and Karbala (Iraq) I didn’t travel abroad.

TT: Government feels that you will flee from the country or you would do tampering in records before that and then flee from the country that’s why they placed your name on the Exit Control List (ECL) so that you could be retained in the country? Do you have such intentions?

MAS: Yes, I am hearing the same on TV but let me tell you very clearly that I have no such intentions. Let me share that the report of this JIT was to be submitted in the court on December 19 whereas I travelled to China on the evening of 18th December for CPEC related official tour and returned to Pakistan on 21st December if in case I had such intentions it was a golden opportunity for me not to return to Pakistan but that’s not the case I am here right in front of you.

As far as tampering is concerned, I think JIT is completed and they have gathered all the records even from the Sindh government. They say that they have all the evidences, then what would I tamper as all the records are with them.

TT: Prime Minister of Pakistan and Federal Cabinet are frequently demanding that you should step-down from the post of Chief Minister and PPP should nominate someone else from the party for the post till the time you are declared innocent by the courts? So why don’t you resign?

MAS: Firstly, it would be party’s decision I am nominated by the party and I will do whatever they would ask me to do. Secondly, till date I haven’t received any notice from any court, any investigation agency regarding JIT. So, whatever party says I would abide by that. What I feel that opposition believes that Murad Ali Shah effectively presents the case of his party and the province, and wants to get rid of me. I don’t want to praise myself but that’s what I heard from them at the highest level. PM Imran Khan said that you are always prepared so we cannot argue with you and even the other ministers and bureaucracy say that I am always prepared maybe that’s why they are asking me to step-down? But, as long as I have the confidence of my party, I would continue as Chief Minister of Sindh.

TT: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is calling you and according to Truth Tracker sources they are preparing six references against you including two direct references against you and three to four references on behalf of Sindh government presently you are the first Chief Minister in the world who is on the ECL and running the project and you would also be the first chief minister facing six references and also serving as the chief executive of the province?

MAS: I am not called by National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Secondly, please don’t assume that these references would be made even if I am accused by the investigation agencies that would just be an accusation and I would face that.

Let me tell you very clearly if any reference is made against me I would completely cooperate with the investigation agencies. As far as my Chief Ministership is concerned that’s my party’s decision.

TT: Do you think that you are completely innocent and haven’t committed any mistake and all the allegations against you are completely baseless?

MAS: Yes, the allegations against me are completely baseless I haven’t committed any mistake and haven’t given any favour to Omni group.

TT: People are saying that you are made CM Sindh by the Omni Group?

MAS: No, I would say rather angrily that I made CM by my chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and President Asif Ali Zardari they recommended by name and parliamentary party accepted that and attributing it to someone else is absolutely wrong.

TT: There are rumours that you allotted land to people. What do you say?

MAS: I have not allotted even an inch of land to anybody ever since I have taken over as a chief executiveof the province. Constitutionally, a chief minister is empowered to allot land but I have not allotted land to any person or organization ever since I had taken over as chief executive of the province in 2016.

TT: What is your take on JIT report?

MAS: I won’t discuss JIT report because the Supreme Court of Pakistan have forbidden us to discuss it in media, otherwise I had vast and credible material to respond each and every clause relating to me.

TT: What is your opinion about the relationship between Federal and Sindh government? 

MAS: The constitution of Pakistan determines the working perimeters between the center and provinces and if both, center and provincial governments will work within their constitutional limits there will be no problem. The functions of the Governor were also very clear in the constitution and he (Imran Ismail) knows very well. Whenever prime minister has visited Karachi, I have received him and attended his meeting where he was invited. We are political people and would never disgrace the highest constitutional offices.

TT: Who is the hurdle in the way of Pakistan People’s Party? Who is against you? 

MAS: It is very clearly at the moment the people who are speaking against the PPP government in Sindh that is the Federal government it is quiet disturbing for them as they are in power in three provinces except Sindh and they are not happy about it. Let me be honest they are not running the country effectively in the name of single rhetoric of bringing back ill-gotten money from abroad. We are saying that bring that ill-gotten money back who is stopping you as it is your work but don’t sacrifice all the other roles for this. I failed to understand the performance of this federal government.

TT: Is forward bloc in making to succeed PPP’s government in Sindh? Your take on this? 

MAS: No, there is no forward bloc in the making at Sindh to succeed PPP’s government. The opposition was very weak in the Sindh Assembly but they were making tall claims. The people of rural areas of Sindh totally rejected the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf but they got some seats in Karachi and everyone knows how they had won. In the recent local government by-elections, the people of Karachi had also rejected the PTI.

Let me share an interesting thing with you. During the previous tenure of the assembly I was told by someone that a forward bloc was being formed and 18 members were parting ways with the PPP. I challenged him to get the loyalty of one MPA from PPP changed and I’ll give remaining 17 MPAs myself.

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