KARACHI: Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister on Information, Law and Anti-Corruption Murtaza Wahab speaks at a press conference on Sunday. He was accompanied by other Pakistan Peoples Party leaders.—PPI
KARACHI: Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister on Information, Law and Anti-Corruption Murtaza Wahab speaks at a press conference on Sunday. He was accompanied by other Pakistan Peoples Party leaders.—PPI

ISLAMABAD: The tussle between the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which is in power in Sindh, has intensified over the fake bank accounts and money laundering case, which is set to be taken up by the Supreme Court here on Monday (today).

PTI leaders have demanded resignation of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah for allegedly committing corruption in connivance with PPP supremo Asif Ali Zardari and others.

On the other hand, PPP has warned the federal government of dire consequences if any attempt is made to arrest top PPP leaders, including its chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari who is also facing the fake bank accounts case.

The PTI, according to sources, is making efforts to topple the PPP-led Sindh government if the chief minister does not resign. Prime Minister Imran Khan held a meeting at Banigala and tasked Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry with meeting leaders of political parties of Sindh, other than the PPP, aimed at seeking their support for dislodging the PPP government.

Minister says there is no plan for governor’s rule or repeal of 18th Amendment; Khursheed Shah warns against arrest of Bilawal

PPP is the majority party in the Sindh Assembly with 99 seats while the PTI and its allies have a total of 64 seats. The PTI requires 18 more members to outnumber the PPP to form its government in the province. However, it is believed that it would be a hard nut to crack to defeat the PPP in the provincial assembly as the party enjoys a formidable position in the province since long and has been in office there for over a decade.

Talking to Dawn on Sunday, Fawad Chaudhry said he would start his two-day visit to Sindh on Monday (today) and meet political leaders of interior Sindh, including Awami Tehreek chief Ayaz Latif Palijo and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) leaders. “I will meet Ayaz Latif Palijo, Arbab Rahim, Zulfiqar Mirza (whose son Hasnain Mirza is an MPA), Ameer Bukhsh Bhutto (son of Mumtaz Bhutto), Pir Pagara and others,” he added.

“...We do not want to dislodge the PPP government in Sindh but want to forge consensus on the demand for resignation of Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to ensure fair trial of Asif Ali Zardari and company,” the information minister said.

He said the PTI had no intention to impose the governor’s rule in Sindh or repeal the 18th Amendment.

Meanwhile, Zulfi Bukhari, special assistant to the prime minister on overseas Pakistanis and human resource development, demanded the resignation of CM Shah.

He wrote on Twitter: “While only land grabbers/thieves/mafia come to Zardari cartel’s rescue, a new low was reached by Murad Ali Shah when held accountable for his corruption. Shame on him for being a blind servant trying to justify his loyalty by stooping so low without any respect.”

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, who belongs to the PTI, claimed that some MPAs belonging to the PPP had contacted the PTI and said they did not want to remain part of the PPP any more.

He told media that a forward bloc was being formed in the PPP in Sindh as many of PPP leaders were fed up with “corrupt” practices of the party’s top leaders.

The governor alleged that the Sindh government was busy saving corrupt people despite the fact that the entire province was in a state of unrest.

Talking to the media in Ghotki after meeting people from different schools of thought at the Raja Palace, he said all constitutional means would be explored to bring a change in the Sindh Assembly, adding that the change would come soon.

PTI leader Halim Adil Shaikh said their contacts with PPP members were increasing day by day and soon some good news would be shared with the public.

Sardar Ali Gohar Mahar, an MPA of the GDA who hosted Governor Ismail in Ghotki, said Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Dr Arif Alvi would also visit the district on his invitation.

Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Ali Zaidi said some PPP MPAs wanted to get rid of Sindh government.

On the basis of the report of a Joint Investigation Team formed by the Supreme Court in the fake bank accounts/money laundering case, names of 172 suspects — including Asif Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Murad Ali Shah, Qaim Ali Shah, Faryal Talpur and Anwar Siyal — have been placed on Exit Control List after which they cannot travel abroad. The hearing of the case will take place today (Monday) at the Supreme Court and stern orders are expected that may include arrest of top PPP leaders.

However, PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah said in a statement any attempt to arrest Mr Bhutto-Zardari would be a “dangerous game” and create unrest in the country. “Arresting Bilawal is impossible but it can happen. Similarly, it is quite difficult to impose governor rule in Sindh but it also can be done through martial law,” he said.

He said attempts were being made to enforce one-party rule in the country.

Nasir Shah, another leader of the PPP and Sindh minister, said in a press conference that the PTI was trying to seek loyalties of PPP MPAs through horse-trading.

He questioned why the PTI leadership was making contacts with PPP MPAs, adding that Murad Ali Shah would not resign.

Nasir Shah claimed that many PTI legislators were fed up with PTI policies and they could be contacted by the PPP. “We can also give tough time to the PTI at the centre,” he added.

Adviser to the Sindh chief minister on information and law Murtaza Wahab said all 99 PMAs of the PPP were firm and would never leave the party.

He said Asif Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari were being targeted just for exposing inefficiencies, undemocratic conduct, and anti-people policies of the federal government in the parliament.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2018