BADIN: Former president Asif Ali Zardari said on Sunday he was not afraid of graft and other cases and vowed to face all of them with courage even if 50 more were instituted against him.
Speaking to his party’s lawmakers, leaders, workers and supporters at a rally held in a village near Matli, the Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman said he had won elections even when he was in jail.
He said his critics and “forces arrayed against his party” were welcome to level “baseless allegations” against him because he had “given the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Sindh and other backward areas their rights”.
“Do frame cases against me over such measures, but the cases about theft of goat will not work,” he remarked.
Mr Zardari went on to urge the “unwise forces and people” not to tease him and his party, adding that the followers of Shaheed leaders would not succumb to the pressure tactics being employed against them.
He said he was talking in Urdu because he wanted to send a clear message to “the dumb and blind sitting in Islamabad, who were devoid of wisdom and political acumen”.
“Those who do not know how to run the government have been brought into power,” he said.
Neither the rulers nor the bureaucrats were in a position to take forward the mission of serving the people, he said.
He said that only PPP leaders knew what the people of different regions needed and added that both Z.A. Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto were visionary leaders. That was why they were respected by the masses.
Mr Zardari said that Sindh’s former information minister Sharjeel Inam Memon contested elections from jail and defeated a wealthy opponent who had been carefully chosen to take him on.
If he and other PPP leaders would be imprisoned they would become even more popular, he said.
The former president said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan was going from country to country to collect $2-3 billion as loan or grant, adding that countries could not be run in such a manner.
He said that after the PTI government came to power the country’s stock exchange had lost $50 billion. The country had some $8bn before the PTI had come to power at the Centre.
Due to a shortage of irrigation water, over 0.7 million acres of fertile land in Badin, Thatta and Sujawal districts had been devoured by the sea, Mr Zardari said, adding that the whole of Sindh was actually facing a severe water crisis because it was a lower riparian province.
He said the poor farmers were facing a cash crunch because they were not being allowed to sell their sugar cane, adding that if they were not allowed to sell their commodity they would switch over to other crops, like cotton.
Mr Zardari said he had already directed the Sindh government to begin lining all the water channels, including those meant for irrigation, to save water from going to waste.
Speaking on the occasion, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said the PPP leadership was not afraid of threats from “some insane people who have been imposed on the people of the country”.
He said it would be “an unfair and dangerous” move to run the affairs of Sindh from Islamabad.
Mr Shah said his administration was contemplating moving the courts against the unfair share of water being supplied to Sindh for the past many months, adding that every district in the province was facing drought-like conditions. He expressed the hope that he would get relief from judiciary.
He said that all the “conspiracies of undemocratic forces” would ultimately die down.
Mir Ghulam Ali Khan Talpur, the MNA from Badin, also spoke on the occasion. Aseefa Bhutto Zardari attended the rally.
Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2019