SUKKUR/LARKANA: Unfazed by the placement of his name on the Exit Control List (ECL) and startling allegations levelled in the report of a joint investigation team, Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Zardari on Friday indicated that he became embroiled in the money laundering scandal because the powers that be were unhappy with the 18th Amendment as well as with his party’s victory in the July 25 general elections in Sindh.
Mr Zardari, who a day before vowed to fight his political opponents in courts and elsewhere, also challenged unnamed forces that his party would repeat the same performance even if they tried to rig the elections again.
“Now you have a problem that you could not [commit] such rigging in Sindh which you had committed elsewhere [in the elections]...you can try again, we will fight against it as well,” he said while addressing a public meeting in Khangarh, Ghotki district.
Bilawal promises PPP support for NAB law amendments for across-the-board accountability
“[In the past] we have remained in opposition despite winning elections, (hum ne to jeet ke bhi opposition me reh ke daikha hai)”, he said in an apparent reference to some instances in which his party was deprived of the chance to make a coalition government despite emerging as the single-largest party in Sindh.
He asked whether he committed a sin by passing the 18th Amendment to the Constitution through which provinces were given more autonomy. “We have carried out this to shut the book of [Maulana] Abul Kalam Azad. It was not passed by me alone but the entire parliament unanimously approved it.”
“We have given provinces their right to their natural resources. This is not a small thing,” he said, adding he did not own gas fields or coal mines.
He said Pakistan would be strengthened by giving equal rights to people without any discrimination. “Pakistan will not be strengthened by just your high moral (aap ke kah dainay se ke jawan mera moral up hai Pakistan mazboot nahi hota).”
He asked his workers not to be scared of anything as there was nothing to worry about. “No one can scare your leadership,” he vowed.
At the outset, Mr Zardari made it clear again that he was speaking in Urdu to address the “deaf, mute and blind” people in Islamabad.
Senior PPP leadership including Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Syed Khursheed Shah and others were also present.
In Larkana, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari told reporters that the JIT report was a politically motivated conspiracy and a “pack of lies”.
He was confident that PPP would counter the plot against it.
Accompanied by Sanam Bhutto and party leaders at a church, he said that if tabled in the house the PPP would support legislation to amend the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) for across-the-board accountability.
He categorically said that his party did not want any NRO — the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance — and added that only opposition parties were being targeted in the actions under NAB laws. In response to a question about the likely arrest of Mr Zardari, he said the issue would be dealt with legally.
He ruled out the possibility of the formation of any forward bloc in Sindh and said that such things were being contemplated only in the minds of PPP’s opponents.
The PPP chairman linked mounting pressure by the rulers on the PPP to a compromise on its stance on the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. “We will not betray the vision and graves of martyrs.”
He alleged that the government was intending to capture provinces’ resources and added federation was getting weaker and people were angry.
Top PPP leadership on ECL
Also on Friday, the federal government placed a total of 172 persons connected with the money laundering and fake bank accounts case.
Former president Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zarari and Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah are also among those who cannot travel abroad.
Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2018