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Opposition lambastes Imran over midnight address

Updated June 13, 2019

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PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Twitter that the prime minister feared that he would be unable to get the budget passed by the National Assembly and that his government would fall.  — DawnNewsTV/File
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Twitter that the prime minister feared that he would be unable to get the budget passed by the National Assembly and that his government would fall. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: Two main opposition parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, lashed out on Wednesday at Prime Minister Imran Khan for yet another outburst against opponents in his latest televised address to the nation.

Terming it the“PM’s panicked midnight address to the nation”, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on his official social media page on Twitter that the prime minister feared that he would be unable to get the budget passed by the National Assembly and that his government would fall. “Coercion will not work. No one with a conscience could vote to increase taxes, inflation and unemployment.

This budget is economic suicide, we cannot let it pass,” declared the PPP chairman in another tweet, hours before presiding over a meeting of the party’s parliamentary group in which he was briefed about the salient features of the budget presented by Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar on Tuesday.

Earlier, through another tweet, the PPP chairman had expressed his concern over the arrest of the opposition members, including his father Asif Ali Zardari, stating that “while democratic civilian leadership have been arrested, banned organisations, good Taliban and the minister who facilitated terrorists roam free.” He added that “Clearly [the] priority of the state is to crush democratic civilian voices while continuing to coddle and harbour terrorists and extremists”.

PPP says coercion won’t work; PML-N claims speech was full of lies

In another tweet, the PPP chairman alleged he was being “censored” in the National Assembly because “the coward PM” could not tolerate his speech. Mr Bhutto-Zardari also criticised National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser for not issuing the production order for Mr Zardari and reiterated his demand that the speaker resign.

Meanwhile, a PPP delegation comprising Syed Khurshid Shah, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Sherry Rehman and Ghulam Mustafa Shah visited the residence of the speaker to make a personal request for the issuance of the production order pertaining to Mr Zardari, but they returned empty-handed when made aware that the speaker was not in town.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Khurshid Shah said that he had spoken to the speaker on the telephone and had been told that he would respond to their request very soon. Mr Shah, however, said that it seemed as though the speaker had powers, but no “permission” to issue the production order.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference, PPP leaders Qamar Zaman Kaira, Dr Nafeesa Shah, Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed and Nazir Dhoki questioned the logic behind the premier’s decision to address the nation at midnight.

Mr Kaira said that the prime minister had intentionally tried to vitiate the atmosphere after the presentation of “such a budget”. He alleged that recent arrests of opposition members had also been made to divert the attention of the public. Mr Kaira said the IMF had made the passage of the budget conditional for the approval of the bailout package, adding that the prime minister was trying to create the impression that past rulers had merely obtained loans and then shifted the money abroad. The PPP stalwart demanded that the prime minister fulfil his desire of forming a commission to probe the utilisation of loans obtained by the earlier two governments during the last 10 years, adding that he must first ask [for information] from his adviser on finance, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, who was the finance minister during the PPP government.

The PML-N’s information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a statement that the prime minister’s address had been full of “lies and enmity”, which through his “censored and disorganised” comments had made Pakistan a laughing stock.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2019