PPP to stay away from JUI-F long march against govt

September 12, 2019

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PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari talking to reporters on Wednesday.—PPI
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari talking to reporters on Wednesday.—PPI

HYDERABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Wednesday his party would not join the anti-government long march that Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has announced, but promised to extend “moral and political support”.

Talking to reporters in Jamshoro, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said PPP has had a “clear and consistent policy when it comes to dharna politics in Islamabad”.

“Whether it is a sit-in by Tahirul Qadri, Imran Khan or by Tehreek-i-Labbaik; we were in opposition when [those sit-ins] took place but we never joined them,” he said.

“We support Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s politics and the issues he is raising. We provide moral support, political support for his initiative [but] strategically, we don’t see eye to eye.”

The PPP leader announced that he would go around the country as part of his mass-contact campaign and raise the same issues as the Maulana has been doing.

“While [Maulana Fazlur] Rehman will be in Islamabad, I will be going across the country and our narrative will be the same, which is that this puppet, incapable prime minister, who has been imposed upon us through rigging, who has ruined our economy, who has weakened our national security position on every issue including Kashmir [...] he will have to go home,” he said.

Last month, the JUI-F chief announced his party had planned a “decisive” long march aimed at ousting the present “fake government” in October.

Besides, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that people can tolerate economic downslide in the country, but they would never ever accept any “laxity or bargain” over the Kashmir issue (on the part of the government).

“I have not heard the speech of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, but have heard him terming occupied Kashmir `a state or province of India’,” the PPP leader said while talking to the media at the residence of PPP MPA Malik Asad Sikandar in Thana Ahmed Khan, after offering condolences to the MPA on his mother’s death.

He said India had launched another attack on Kashmir by revoking the constitutional provisions [that gave the region a special status] and converting the Valley into a prison but “our prime minister has not visited a single country [to gain support on Kashmir issue].

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had made no attempt to become the voice of Kashmiri people and wondered what kind of message the PM was giving by observing Kashmir Solidarity Hour on Fridays.

Had the PPP been in power, its prime minister would have become an ambassador of the Kashmiris and paid visits to several countries to advocate Kashmir cause.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that PPP since its inception had a consistent and clear policy over Kashmir issue, as the party’s founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had once said that he could not commit any mistake on the Kashmir issue “even in the state of sleep”.

About the Karachi Committee, which has been set up by the federal government to resolve the city’s civic issues and which lacks any representation of PPP, the ruling party of Sindh, he said it was “an unconstitutional body and merely a drama”.

He alleged that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Sindh Grand Democratic Alliance had “jointly pledged to separate Karachi from Sindh during the last general elections. The PPP leader said the committee was “in continuity of this pledge”.

On one hand, he said, the federal government was not providing resources to Sindh and, on the other, it was ridiculing the poverty prevailing in the province.

He said that PPP government in Sindh had undertaken initiatives in health and education sectors, including public-private partnership projects, and was providing quality cardiac care services in a couple of cities while utilising its own resources.

He demanded that Sindh be given its rights.

About Karachi, he said the federal government and the prime minister believed in photo sessions. During the recent Clean Karachi campaign, garbage was picked up from one place only to be dumped at another and residents of the city had to face its results during recent rains, he said.

He said the federal government was not giving Sindh its due share with the result that every city of the province – from Larkana to Karachi – was suffering. On the other hand, the PPP government is utilising its resources and taking measures to address civic issues of Karachi.

The PPP chief said the government was committing economic murder of people and also “attacking democracy”. He said the government lacked capability and competence to handle national economy or serve any other national interest.

Answering a question, he said the federal government was exerting pressure on the opposition by imprisoning its leaders and implicating them in cases.

“The federal government believes that by instituting cases against opposition leadership and putting them in jail, it can blackmail the PPP,” he said. “Let the federal government do whatever it wants, but the party would not change its stance over the 18th Amendment, rule of law and democracy. The PPP is ready to face every kind of tyranny.”

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2019