KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Saturday that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had tried to turn the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) into a controversial project, but his party had resisted the attempt.

“The Nawaz League tried to make the CPEC a controversial project by changing its western route, but the PPP stood as a wall in its way,” said Mr Bhutto-Zardari while addressing a public gathering in Balochistan’s Hub town that borders Sindh’s capital.

He claimed that the PML-N had ‘usurped’ or ‘encroached upon’ the CPEC which was originally an initiative of the PPP’s previous government as former president Asif Ali Zardari had signed an agreement on it with his Chinese counterpart at the Presidency in 2013.

“They [PML-N government] are trying to take false credit for the CPEC initiative. They should tell me just one thing: why then are the people of Gwadar not being supplied drinking water?”

Certain mindset in Islamabad considers smaller provinces its colonies, says PPP leader

He said that a “certain mindset in Islamabad” had always considered the smaller provinces its “colonies” and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif clearly symbolised the mindset.

“Mian Saheb has never given more importance to Balochistan than that of a colony,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari said.

During its five-year tenure, he said, the PPP’s federal and provincial governments had carried out a lot of development works. However, he admitted, suffering from decade-long militancy Balochistan continued to face several issues despite support from the PPP government.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that Balochistan was the only province in 2013 which had presented a surplus budget because it had been provided record funds from the national exchequer by the PPP’s government.

Criticising former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf, he said that the then regime had stoked the fire of hatred in Balochistan.

“We got a Balochistan in 2008 which was burning in the fire of hatred and soaked with blood and we wiped off the blood from the forehead of the troubled province.”

He said that the PPP had stopped military operation in Balochistan and launched a comprehensive Aghaz-i-Huqooq Balochistan programme.

He said that the provinces were given more autonomy with the passage of the 18th Amendment which strengthened the federation further.

The PPP leader targeted his political foes when he asked what Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Imran Khan had done to accord justice to the families of the martyred children of the Army Public School.

Similarly, he said, nothing had been done by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to ensure justice to the families of the innocent martyrs of the Model Town incident.

“And nothing was done by the Balochistan government after a whole generation of lawyers was martyred in Quetta,” he added.

“Has any of them had the moral courage to wrap up their own government for such blatant failures?” he asked.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that he wanted to replicate in Balochistan the improved healthcare system introduced by his party’s government in Sindh.

He said that the PPP had the vision to eradicate poverty from Balochistan and the rest of the country.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2018

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