Bilawal warns of march to Islamabad if Centre takes back JPMC, NICVD

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PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari along with CM Murad Ali Shah and other party leaders visits the children hospital within the CMCH complex in Larkana on Sunday.—APP
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari along with CM Murad Ali Shah and other party leaders visits the children hospital within the CMCH complex in Larkana on Sunday.—APP

LARKANA: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Sunday said that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was established under a “dictator-tailored black law” but expressed his readiness to appear in the accountability court on a call up notice issued to him for May 29.

Media reports had earlier quoted PPP sources as saying that he might not appear in the court on the date due to his preoccupations.

He was speaking at a press conference at the children hospital within the Chandka Medical College Hospital (CMCH) complex where he also inaugurated an emergency room.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari repea­ted his stance that the NAB law was part of political engineering and that the institution was established for political victimisation. “I think it [the call up notice] is political victimisation,” he said, and referred to former Supreme Court chief justice’s remarks that “Bilawal is innocent...” He pointed out that he had now been summoned in the same case which had drawn the former CJP’s such remarks.

“I am ready to face NAB; therefore, I will appear before it,” he said.

‘I am ready to appear before NAB on May 29’

The PPP chairman also criticised the federal government over “unjustified” distribution of resources [gas, water and electricity] among provinces and denial of Sindh’s rights. He warned that if the federal government did not withdraw the notification regarding takeover of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) and Jinnah Postg­raduate Medical Centre (JPMC), he along with the people of Sindh would hold a march to Islamabad “to snatch our rights”.

In reply to a question regarding Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) demanding new administrative units within Sindh, Mr Bhutto-Zardari claimed that [Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman] Imran Khan and his allies had agreed during their election campaign on dividing Sindh. “This point was even incorporated in PTI’s manifesto,” he said. But, he added, PPP had the history of standing against any division of Sindh. He said creating a province from with in Sindh was impossible and PPP would continue to oppose it.

“The question does not arise. However, such a voice can be heard from [the part of a province which has a sense of deprivation and whi­ch has remained backward, like south Punjab,” he argued.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari alleged that Centre was following a policy of ‘divide and rule’. Therefore, he said, people should jointly raise their voice for rights. He warned that Centre’s moves against Sindh would endanger the federation. Such moves were a blow to Sindh’s progress and economy, he added.

“At one stage, they [the federal government] taunted us [the Sindh government] accusing it of bad governance but when we turned the major hospitals [NICVD and JPMC] into state-of-art heath facilities after taking over them under the 18th Constitutional Amendment and put in huge investment to provide free-of-cost treatment to cardiac patients, the Centre forcibly encroached upon these institutions. Look at the Lady Reading Hos­pital in Peshawar where nurses are on a strike; but here in Sindh, we have bro­ught about tremendous changes at the JPMC,” he said.

The PPP chairman claimed that not only Sindh was meted out such treatment but Balochistan also was facing a similar treatment and a 70 per cent cut had been made in Punjab’s budget. He said other political parties could opt for remaining tight-lipped over the situation but PPP would not stay silent.

“We have the track record of breaking ‘One Unit’ in the past and if any attempt was made to reimpose it on the country, we will stand against it like a rock,” he said, adding that the media should play its role in keeping people abreast about their rights in the light of the 18th Amendment.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari obser­ved that under the public-private partnership, the children centres established at different hospitals in Kar­achi were working well. Rec­e­ntly such centres had been set up in Larkana and Nawa­bshah and soon more would be established in Jacobabad and Sukkur. Gra­d­ually, the network would be spread to the entire province, he said.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, PPP provincial chief Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho and other senior PPP leaders including Abdul Fatah Bhutto and Shakeel Memon, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Medical University (SMBBMU) registrar Prof Dr Shahida Shaikh and others were present at the press conference.

The SMBBMU vice chancellor briefed the PPP chai­rman about future plans and expansion of the Shaikh Zayed Hospital for Women and CMCH children hospital.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2019