KARACHI: Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks at a press conference in the Sindh Assembly building here on Wednesday.—PPI
KARACHI: Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks at a press conference in the Sindh Assembly building here on Wednesday.—PPI

KARACHI: Without naming them, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has demanded removal of three federal ministers for allegedly being open supporters of banned groups and having links with proscribed organisations.

Speaking at a press conference at the Sindh Assembly building on Wednesday, he alleged that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government was victimising the opposition parties, but not taking action against the banned organisations, which was against the spirit of the National Action Plan (NAP) to counter terrorism.

“They [the PTI] are not taking action against the banned organisations because they had been their allies in the last general elections. The groups had been rebranded to help the PTI form its government,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari alleged.

He called for the formation of a joint parliamentary national security committee with the mandate to oversee implementation of the NAP.

PPP leader calls for formation of parliamentary national security committee to oversee implementation of NAP

Besides, he demanded, the PTI should distance itself from the banned groups.

The PPP chief said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was so much committed to its “agenda of victimising political opponents” that even an angel who was made its head could not stop it from committing “political engineering”.

He condemned NAB’s act of arresting Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani from Islamabad “on trumped-up charges” and said the speaker’s arrest was tantamount to an attack on the provincial assembly as the speaker’s office symbolised the assembly’s existence.

“The charges of assets beyond means are false and forged and that can be placed on anyone,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari said.

He condemned NAB’s raid on Mr Durrani’s house after his arrest, saying the raid indicated there was no evidence against him. Besides, such a raid could also be made to falsify or plant evidence, instead of finding one. He said women and children of Mr Durrani’s family were “taken hostage” during the raid and demanded an investigation into the incident.

He claimed that the ‘benami’ or fake bank accounts case was also an instance of political engineering, adding the apex court had taken suo motu notice in the case citing violation of human rights because of slackness in the investigation though “the case does not fall into the domain of suo motu or violation of human rights”.

“There was no slackness as a first information report was registered in this case, a preliminary report was presented and the case is being heard in the banking court.”

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said appointment of representatives of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as members of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed to probe the case was an undemocratic precedent that “politicises the ISI and judiciary and also militarises the judiciary”.

He said another ‘obnoxious unconstitutional’ effort was the shifting of the fake accounts case to Rawalpindi, which he termed a violation of the concept of jurisdiction.

“Every time, Karbala is staged for the Bhuttos in Pindi,” the PPP chief said.

He said everyone had witnessed how the chief justice of Pakistan had summoned an ISI representative in an open court and asked him on whose instructions Mr Bhutto-Zardari’s name had been included in the JIT report.

In the same hearing, he added, the CJ had said Mr Bhutto-Zardari was innocent and his name should be expunged from the JIT report and the Exit Control List.

However, he said, surprisingly when the court’s written orders came they did not include the abovementioned remarks.

“This is very absurd. I think it can only be a mistake,” he said.

He requested the apex court to look at its record again as that omission sent a very bad message.

Regarding the regional situation, he asked the government to help strengthen the Afghan government in the present scenario. He also said there should be strategic withdrawal of (US) troops from Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2019