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Bilawal, Zardari warn govt against turning country into ‘one unit’

Updated December 22, 2018


Probe sought into alleged meeting of special assistant to PM with JIT members investigating fake accounts case.
Probe sought into alleged meeting of special assistant to PM with JIT members investigating fake accounts case.

KARACHI/LAHORE: The Pakis­tan Peoples Party (PPP) on Friday warned against alleged ‘efforts’ to turn the country into a ‘one-unit’ and vowed to resist any move aimed at rolling back the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.

Speaking at a meeting of PPP parliamentarians and other party leaders at Bilawal House, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Asif Ali Zardari expressed their confidence in the “power of the people” and said that the party would face any “cruel move” from authorities which had been campaigning for “political victimisation in the name of accountability”.

“The PPP, under the leadership of Shaheed Mohtarma [Benazir Bhutto] faced worst dictatorship of Gen Zia,” a statement issued by Bilawal House after the meeting quoted Mr Zardari as saying.

Probe sought into alleged meeting of special assistant to PM with JIT members investigating fake accounts case

“I don’t see this phase is as bad as that of [General Zia regime] was. History is witness to our resolve, temperament and courage. We have always emerged stronger after every phase of oppression.”

Mr Bhutto-Zardari in his speech said that basic utilities of the people were being cut down and the economy was on the verge of collapse, but the government was busy in pursuing its agenda of political victimisation.

“This whole scenario is being created to push the country towards a ‘one unit’ but we will not let them do that. We will not even allow the government to roll back the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. We will go to any extent to resist any [such] move,” the PPP chairman said.

Inquiry demanded

Meanwhile, leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party on Friday questioned the alleged meeting of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar with officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) hours before a joint investigation team (JIT) probing the money laundering case against former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur finalised its report, and demanded investigation into recent activities of the premier’s aide, including forensic investigation of his mobile phone.

Senior PPP leader and Sindh Local Bodies Minister Saeed Ghani first took to social media and put a direct question to the PM’s Special Assistant, Mirza Shahzad Akber, over Twitter, questioning his meeting with FIA officials at its headquarters on Dec 19.

Mr Akber, however, took no time and denied Mr Ghani’s allegations in his tweet, saying he was spending time with his mother who was ill and was being treated at a hospital.

The denial did not convince the PPP leaders who later in the noon addressed a press conference at Bilawal House after the court extended the bail of Mr Zardari and Ms Talpur and demanded a probe into “serious charges against the key government member”.

“The denial over social media is not enough,” Mr Ghani said. “It’s a very serious allegation which, we firmly believe, is true. If it’s not and Mr Shahzad Akbar is confident enough to face it then we demand a proper investigation.

“The CCTV footage of last 48 hours of the FIA headquarters should be saved and then a geo-fencing of his mobile phone should be conducted which would show his presence over the last few days,” the PPP leader said.

He said that the federal ministers and key leaders of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf kept predicting moves of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and judicial decisions which turned true after a few days.

“If you link such statements from the ministers and the PTI leaders with the meetings of Mr Shahzad Akbar you will find answers to all questions as to how the government is using national institutions for their political agenda,” said Mr Ghani, who was flanked by adviser to the chief minister of Sindh on information Barrister Murtaza Wahab and senior PPP leader Aajiz Dhamra.

He also said that courts and national institutions like NAB should not appear to be seen a part of any political victimisation. The rule of law and independence of judiciary were essential for any democratic system to thrive, he said.

PPP Punjab’s leaders also objected to the alleged meeting of the PM’s assistant on accountability with members of the JIT.

Central deputy information secretary of the PPP Munawwar Anjum and Punjab’s general secretary Chaudhry Manzoor said the meeting between Mr Akbar and the JIT members had exposed victimisation of opposition leaders in the name of so-called accountability.

Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2018