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KARACHI: Maintaining his aggressive tone against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government and reiterating his demand for removal of three federal ministers for their alleged links with banned organisations, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari went a step ahead on Thursday as he accused one of them of helping in running militant outfits and their training camps.

Answering reporters’ questions after inaugurating the ‘Sar Sabz Sindh’ project by planting a sapling at the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park, the PPP chairman said: “The third minister has a long history of association with banned outfits. He has helped run militant outfits and given speeches at their functions. He has also helped run training camps. So the people with such a mindset should not be in the cabinet of Naya Pakistan.”

On Wednesday, Mr Bhutto-Zardari had demanded removal of the three federal ministers for allegedly being supporters of banned groups and having links with proscribed organisations. He did not name the ministers.

He had alleged that the 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 to counter terrorism.

The PPP chairman, who has been in the war of words with the federal finance minister for the past few days, again targeted Asad Umar by calling him “apathetic and inhuman”, demanding his removal from the government. However, he did not clarify that whether Mr Umar was among those three ministers allegedly linked with the banned outfits.

“I demand that this minister should resign,” he said while commenting on the current state of the country’s economy which he said had come to its historical worst, bringing “tsunami of inflation” to the poor people of the country. “I think there should always be a fundamental philosophy. The people at the government and their ministers should be human first and then the ruler.”

Regarding the ‘Sar Sabz Sindh’ project, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the Sindh government would plant two billion trees across the province in the next five years, putting more focus on fruit trees in an attempt to combat the environmental challenges.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and ministers of his cabinet were also present on the occasion.

Earlier, Sindh Wildlife and Forests Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that trees would be planted across the province under the project. He said the drive was part of his ministry’s urban forestry project and Karachi became the first city where work on it was initiated.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019