18th Amendment rollback may ‘disintegrate’ country: Bilawal

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Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addresses a public gathering on Friday.—PPI
Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addresses a public gathering on Friday.—PPI

GHOTKI: Reiterating the threat to launch a movement to topple the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government, Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has came up with another strong warning that the country may face “another disintegration if One Unit is reintroduced” while rolling back the 18th Amendment.

In what appeared to be an attempt to counter Prime Minister Imran Khan’s rally in the area last month, the PPP leader addressed a huge crowd in Khangarh on Friday. He took the opportunity to target the government and its policies, including the coming tax amnesty scheme and the proposed move against the 18th Amendment, and issued his warning in harsher words as he repeatedly called PM Khan “a puppet” instead of taking his name.

“They are making every attempt to roll back the 18th Amendment,” said Mr Bhutto-Zardari. “It would not just end here but it would weaken the federation. Do they want the disintegration of this country? They want to introduce the One Unit system. The system once caused disintegration of the country and if it is introduced again, it will, God forbid, cause disintegration of the country again.”

The very next moment, the PPP chairman came up with the warning of an anti-government movement which he had been repeating for the past more than three months at every public forum.

Proposed tax amnesty scheme aimed at benefiting people close to Imran, alleges PPP leader

He said that the 1973 Constitution was a hard-earned democratic success of the people which could not be compromised at any cost. “To bring this constitution back to its original state, we lost lives and made sacrifices. It carries our sweat and blood. Let me be clear with you [government] and this should be loud and clear. If you touch this constitution, then there would be Dama Dam Must Qalandar,” he said to thunderous applause from the charged crowd.

In a jibe at the government and its proposed tax amnesty scheme, the PPP chairman also hurled some serious allegations against PM Khan and questioned the effectiveness of the coming plan which had always been criticised by the PTI in the past while it was part of the opposition.

“This puppet PM had always criticised the amnesty scheme in the past, terming it a tool to turn black money into white and humiliation of genuine taxpayers,” he said. “I ask you [Imran Khan] for whom you are bringing this amnesty scheme. For your offshore companies or to save New York properties of Aleema Baji which she built selling sewing machines? Are you bringing it to benefit fake bank accounts of Jehangir Tareen or illegal occupation of land by Aleem Khan? Or are you doing all this to benefit those people from whom you take donations in the name of cancer hospital for your politics and contest elections?”

Mr Bhutto-Zardari vowed to face all charges of corruption in the court and said that the PPP could not be scared in the name of the National Accountability Bureau by the government which was ignoring key issues of economic challenges and border security, but focusing more on victimisation of the opposition parties.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2019