PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday lashed out at the federal government for "trying to occupy Karachi" following Law Minister Farogh Naseem's statement that the centre was considering taking over the administrative affairs of the metropolis through a little-known constitutional provision.
Yesterday, Naseem had told Dawn that a strategic committee on Karachi was going to recommend to Prime Minister Imran Khan that he invoke Article 149 for the uplift of Karachi.
“After getting approval of the cabinet, the provision will be exercised. In case of any resistance shown by the provincial government, we will approach the Supreme Court under Article 184(1) of the Constitution to seek a directive in this regard. If the province still shows reluctance, we will file a contempt petition in the SC,” he had said.
The minister had told news channels that it was his personal view that the Centre should take over Karachi’s affairs. Any decision was likely to be taken by the premier during his visit to the metropolis on September 14, he added.
"You try to build a narrative against [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi, saying that he unconstitutionally captured occupied Kashmir, and at the same time you try to occupy Karachi. This is bizarre," Bilawal said in his press conference. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan, "who has vowed to protect human rights in [occupied] Kashmir, has ripped apart democratic rights of the people of Pakistan.
"You want to run Karachi from Islamabad?" he asked
Addressing the media in Hyderabad, Bilawal said that the PPP, which is the ruling party in Sindh, "will never accept any conspiracy" against the province.
"According to the Constitution, the province that produces a resource is entitled to utilise it before providing it to the rest of the country," the PPP chief said, referring to Sindh government's longstanding complaint that the province, despite producing natural gas, was not receiving its due share.
The federal government is trying to provide gas produced in Sindh to the rest of the country and wants the province's residents to use expensive LNG gas imported from Qatar, Bilawal alleged.
If the federal government "continues to weaken democratic powers in the country, oppresses its people, steals their human rights and on top of that, tries to occupy their land and city, do you think that your country will survive?" Bilawal said.
"This country has already been broken in the past when Islamabad has tried to control the state. It's not like those people were less patriotic than you or me [...] If PPP and other like-minded parties don't stand up, tomorrow, separate Sindhi and Pashtun states might be formed," he warned.
"Come to your senses! The Islamic democratic system is what has kept this country together," he said.