ISLAMABAD: Reiterating his party’s full support for the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F’s ‘Azadi March’, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Tuesday said the government itself was doing the opposition’s job of locking down Islamabad.
Talking to media persons after meeting his ailing father Asif Ali Zardari in the accountability court, he said the government had ignored the recommendations of doctors with regard to the health condition of the former president and was using his ailment to pressurise the PPP.
Mr Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur appeared before the accountability court in connection with the fake bank accounts case. The court extended their judicial remand till Nov 12.
Mr Zardari, however, was shifted to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, which has been declared sub-jail.
“This has happened first time that a government is locking down the federal capital. Democratic protest is the right of every party and this is in our Constitution; Supreme Court has said the same,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari said.
He reminded the Prime Minister Imran Khan that he had himself offered the opposition containers if they would go for protest. “Khan sahib has himself said on the assembly floor that we should come, protest and stage dharna [sit-in], and he will provide us containers and food; so he should do it now. He should stand by his words.”
The PPP chairman alleged that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had locked parliament, conducted rigged elections, pressurised the judiciary and National Accountability Bureau and victimised democratic political parties that compelled them to protest.
In reply to a question about his party’s stance on ‘Azadi March’, he said there was no confusion within the PPP in this regard. “PPP will lend its full support to Azadi March. PPP office-bearers are also assisting and welcoming the march; our own public contact/campaign is present.”
Mr Bhutto-Zardari claimed that the government was under fear because of the opposition’s march. “I think this country has had many politicians but no prime minister has been as afraid as the current one and I believe that he should show a bit more courage; he should not be afraid of every speech, rally or press conference.”
He said that like other political parties, the PPP also demanded fresh elections. “I think that for the new elections, we should absolutely have electoral reforms because if they are conducted like the last general elections then they are of no use and are not elections but selections.”
He termed NAB a “dictatorial institution” and said the anti-graft watchdog was being used to target political opponents. He added that even the incumbent government had realised that the economy and NAB could not go together.
He said the PPP had in memory of the Karasaz tragedy held a huge public meeting and the people of Karachi sent a clear message that they would not tolerate this government and wanted to send Imran Khan packing.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari claimed that in his public meeting in Tharparkar on Wednesday (today) as well, the people would send the same message that they wanted to send this “puppet government” packing and safeguard their democratic, human rights and economic rights.
He said the PPP was the only party which always sided with the poor people and would continue its struggle for the well-being of the underprivileged segments of society.
Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2019