ISLAMABAD: Former Finance Minister Asad Umar, before joining the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was the head of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) funded Punjab Skill Development Fund (PSDF) between 2009 and 2012 during the tenure of the Shahbaz Sharif government.
Shafqat Mahmood, now Federal Education & Professional Training and National History and Literary Heritage Division, was a key DFID aide for Punjab for four years from 2007 to 2012 during the same tenure, record shows.
He was a key adviser for the whole DFID programme in Punjab. When Shahbaz Sharif, as the chief minister, visited Britain for meetings with DFID, he accompanied him, according to the official record.
The PSDF is the largest skills development fund in Pakistan. It was established in 2010 as a not-for-profit company set up under the Companies Ordinance 1984 by the Punjab government in collaboration with DFID. It also exclusively manages the skills training funding of the World Bank.
During the tenure of the previous government, DFID allocated huge funds to Punjab. No complaint ever arose from the DFID about their proper utilization. In a series of tweets, Shafqat Mahmood attacked Shahbaz Sharif in the context of allegations contained in a story published by British tabloid, Daily Mail.
“Incidentally the journalist who wrote the story, David Rose, stands by it. DFID comment was the same that he had already published. More challenge for PML-N spin masters. Why don’t you sue? PML-N propaganda team arguing that daily Mail story is not true and quote DFID comments on one aspect of the story. The remedy is simple folks. Sue the daily mail and claim damages. You won’t though for fear of losing and penalties.”
Another post said that British newspapers do not publish anything until they have triple checked. “Unlike in other places they fear being sued. The Sharifs won’t sue daily mail because they know they will lose and the penalties would be in millions of pounds.”
Responding to a tweet, the minister wrote: Do u seriously believe that I do not know what a tabloid is Ma’am? Instead of telling me how bad the messenger is, why not tell the Sharifs to challenge the message and in a court of law. This question all apologists for the Sharifs, and I am not saying u r one of them, ignore. The tweet by a journalist had stated: Sir with all due respect: have you ever heard of the Daily Mail or what a tabloid is? Recent successful lawsuits against the paper by First Lady Melanie Trump, JK Rowling, Elton John and many others...”