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Bilawal vows to launch protests over ‘anti-people budget’

Updated June 26, 2019

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Party leaders call out minister for ‘outlandish’ remarks on 18th Amendment. — DawnNewsTV/File
Party leaders call out minister for ‘outlandish’ remarks on 18th Amendment. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has announced that his party would take to the streets if the ‘anti-people’ budget is passed.

He was speaking to reporters outside the Parliament House on Tuesday.

The PPP chairman said that a rally would be organised in Gujjar Khan — the hometown of former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf — to send out a message that the budget was unacceptable to the people of Pakistan.

Answering a question about a multi-party conference convened by Jamiat Ulema-i Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), he said that the conference would be a fresh opportunity for the opposition to put forward a new agenda post-one year of ‘tabdeeli sarkar’ in power.

Party leaders call out minister for ‘outlandish’ remarks on 18th Amendment

He said that the conference would discuss all issues pertaining to the prevailing economic situation as well as attacks on democratic and human rights. He said the PPP had given opportunity to the rulers to give a people friendly budget, but a glance on the finance bill showed that it was an anti-people budget with record taxes. The PPP chairman lamented that not even a single house out of the total five million promised by the prime minister had been constructed and the same was the case with the promise of giving 10 million jobs.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari was of the view that it was not possible for a single individual to find a solution to the problems facing the masses and everyone must work together. “We will need to meet on a regular basis and each issue cannot be discussed in a day,” he said.

Replying to another question, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that there was complete discipline in the ranks of the PPP and if a decision on ousting Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani was taken at the multi-party conference, all members would toe the party policy. He hoped that the same would be the case with the PML-N. “If the conference decides Sanjrani should continue, he will hold office and if it decides to de-seat him, he will have to go,” he said.

Responding to a question about minister for inter-provincial coordination Dr Fehmida Mirza’s criticism of the 18th amendment, the PPP chairman said that he respected Dr Mirza and was unaware if she had a role in the enactment of the 18th amendment or not. He, however, said that criticism of the 18th amendment was injustice with Sindh, adding that the IPC ministry should play its role to avert the threats to provincial autonomy.

He regretted that provinces were being deprived of rights and resources. He said the federation was denying Sindh’s share in water. The water minister had conceded on the floor of the house that Sindh was not being given its water and it was being stolen, said Mr Bhutto Zardari, lamenting that the IPC ministry did not take any step to resolve the issue.

He urged members from the GDA, MQM and independents from Sindh to not vote in favour of the anti-Sindh budget.

Meanwhile, former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani has also expressed dismay over the claims made by IPC Minister Fehmida Mirza.

“It is outlandish for the minister and the daughter of the information minister of dictator Ziaul Haq, to claim credit for the 18th amendment on the one hand and to also criticise it at the same time,” he said in a statement.

It was the PPP — the party Ms Mirza then belonged to — which took the decision to purge the Constitution of the anti-democratic articles introduced by a military dictator, he said. “It was the PPP which had nominated her as Speaker of National Assembly and it was President Asif Ali Zardari who addressed a formal letter to the Speaker under the Constitution to form a parliamentary committee and initiate the process of constitutional amendment,” said Mr Rabbani.

To claim credit for the amendment, he said, the minister had vainly tried to distort history and that was highly disappointing.

Mian Rabbani said that the IPC minister should have set up the secretariat of the Council of Common Interest (CII) to institutionalise its working for the rights of the provinces. “She should have raised her voice against depriving Sindh of its rights over oil and gas produced in the provinces guaranteed to it under the 18th Amendment,” he added.

“Whether someone is happy or not, the 18th Amendment is the collective voice and will of the people of Pakistan and cannot be undone,” said Mr Rabbani.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2019