KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks about the founding leaders of two major opposition parties during his speech at the convocation of the Namal College Mianwali on Sunday drew sharp reaction from leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Peoples Party.
The leaders of both parties rejected the PM’s speech in which he said military dictators Gen Ayub Khan and Gen Ziaul Haq had brought PPP founding chairman Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif to power corridors.
Reacting to the utterances, Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani said, “The selected PM” had “distorted something about which he did not know anything i.e. history.”
Mr Ghani, who is also president of PPP’s Karachi division, said “Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto introduced the parliamentary system in our country at a time when there was no democracy and no mechanism to hear the voice of the people.”
He said the late Bhutto had made great contributions to ensure democracy in Pakistan and the 1973 Constitution, which was still the country’s backbone, was one of them. “Who will deny this that at that time there was no constitution, democratic order or parliament?” he said, explaining that the founding party leader was a member of Ayub’s cabinet but “it does not change the fact that he changed the system while becoming part of the system”.
After the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi, former president Asif Zardari inherited the political turmoil but proved himself the true heir of the Bhuttos by according provincial autonomy under the 18th Amendment and empowering the parliament, he said.
The former president restored the 1973 Constitution in its original shape “by removing aberrations made by dictators Gen Ziaul Haq and Gen Pervez Musharraf”, Mr Ghani added.
Mr Ghani said PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had bequeathed the philosophy of his mother and grandfather while “Imran Khan’s legacy is tainted by proven corruption charges against his father”.
Instead of distorting history, he said, PM Khan should have focused on the issues that had inflicted the country.
Criticising the PM Khan’s address to students at Mianwali, former minister and PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal said, “He doesn’t even know the difference between convocation and jalsa. Convocations are not occasions to make political speeches and do opposition bashing. Where has Oxford education gone?”
Referring to the content of the speech, the PML-N said, “The selected prime minister should be taught political history.”
“Today, the PM made a world record by making such a mediocre speech at university convocation,” tweeted the opposition party.
Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2019