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ISLAMABAD: Asserting that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) will form the next government at the Centre, party chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said that people did not care about former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s rhetoric of “why he was sent home”.

At a press conference held at Zardari House on Thursday, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that Mr Sharif had ruled the country four times during which he had taken no steps to strengthen parliament. Instead, he added, the former prime minister was only interested in protecting his own rule.

The PPP chairman said that Mr Sharif had placed the entire democratic system at stake for his own political survival. He said the country’s economy was rapidly spiralling downwards, while people’s problems were not being addressed.

The PPP wanted accountability of everyone and was working hard for judicial reform in the country, he said, regretting that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had not expressed any interest in this throughout their tenure. “The PPP will contest the upcoming general election with a manifesto of resolving people’s problems... while Nawaz Sharif has his slogan of mujhe kyun nikala (why was I ousted).”

Party chairman says people’s problems are moun­ting while Nawaz keeps asking why he was ousted

He claimed that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan will contest the polls with help from his friends — the Taliban.

He said the PPP would never let the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) be privatised, adding that his party would resist any move to this end at every available forum.

During a meeting with 15 PIA employees, led by Hidayatullah Khan of the Peoples Unity, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the PPP was concerned as they had received compelling evidence that during the past five years, certain faulty policies had been deliberately adopted to make the national flag carrier and the Pakistan Steel Mills incur huge losses running into hundreds of billions of rupees.

“The criminal neglect suffered by these state-run entities shows that it was done by design so that they incurred huge liabilities and thereby a false justification was created for their sale at throwaway prices,” he said.

Recounting various faulty policies, he said the PIA had no business plan and had floated a thoughtless premier service which incurred a loss of nearly Rs3 billion in a few months before the service was discontinued due to severe public criticism.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said highly expensive lease agreements, open skies policy without consideration of national interest and discontinuation of some profitable international flights had led the PIA down a steep slope.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2018