Bilawal wants democracy ‘restored’ to country

October 19, 2019

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Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addresses a public rally at Mazar-i-Quaid on Friday.—White Star
Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addresses a public rally at Mazar-i-Quaid on Friday.—White Star

KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Friday expressed the fear that “due to the policies of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government”, Pakis­tan “is drifting towards failed state” as the “national economy has met disaster, social system has collapsed and the life of the common man has become miserable” during the last 14 months.

Without naming any individual or institution, he called upon “selectors” to “restore democracy” as the ruling party’s strategy under the current state of affairs did not reflect collective wisdom of the people, which actually was the spirit of democratic culture.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari was speaking at a rally near Mazar-i-Quaid to mark the 12th anniversary of the 2007 Karsaz carnage during the homecoming rally of his mother and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto after years-long self-exile.

“It’s not only the democratic forces and opposition parties which are protesting. See around you and you will find traders, labourers, farmers, doctors, religious elements or government employees — everyone is protesting against the government. The threat has now become stronger. After the economic failure and the social system’s deterioration, there is a serious threat that Pakistan is drifting towards being a failed state,” he said.

“We demand the selectors to restore democracy. It’s not democracy. We don’t accept this [system] is a democracy. This show should come to an end.”

The PPP chairman was visibly angry when he spoke about Thursday’s by-election in Larkana where the party lost in its stronghold to the Grand Democratic Alliance which he believed was “an organised attempt to overtake the party’s mandate through fraud and rigging”.

He recalled the demand he had made well before the by-poll when he questioned the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision to deploy army personnel in and outside the polling stations on polling day.

The PPP chairman said that with the rally in Karachi, the party had formally launched its movement against the PTI government and it would only come to an end with the ous­ter of Prime Minister Imran Khan and his men “through the power of people”.

He also criticised the government’s media policy, saying the country was under “undeclared censorship on freedom of expression” where journalists were under pressure to black out the opposition parties and toe a certain line.

“From here we would be moving to Tharparkar on Oct 23 to stage a protest rally and then we would carry the campaign to Sindh-Punjab boundary in Kash­mor on Oct 26. On Nov 1 we would be entering Punjab and finally end our journey in Kashmir.”

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2019