ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has expressed the hope that the prolonged stay of Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif in London and the “silence” of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Maryam Nawaz are not because of any deal.
“Every political party has a role to play. I hope that all this is not part of any deal or understanding. Everyone should make efforts to fulfil the wishes of the people of Pakistan. As the PPP chairman, I am here in the country and will not run away,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari said in an exclusive chat with DawnNews when his attention was drawn to the perception that Ms Nawaz was not issuing any statement for a long time because of some kind of understanding with the establishment and that she would also leave the country soon.
Asked about reports of a “London plan” due to presence of some prominent personalities in the UK, the PPP chairman said: “I do not know anything. I believe these are conspiratorial talks. Only the people of Pakistan should be decision makers.”
He also expressed ignorance about any possible agreement between Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and the establishment at the time of the party’s sit-in in Islamabad in October last year.
Says PPP believes in change through democratic means
The PPP chairman said his party had categorically stated even during the JUI-F sit-in that it would not support any such agreement nor would it back any kind of deal in future to oust the rulers, saying the PPP believed in democracy and a change through democratic means. He said there were options such as in-house change and (snap) elections as well.
“We do not accept this selected (PM) and will not accept any other selected. We only believe in democracy,” he said.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari alleged that the government was hell bent on victimising political opponents.
Criticising the government’s recent act of framing rules to regulate social media, he said this was the first government which was imposing media censorship which had been the practice of military governments.
In response to another question, he said the opposition was not confused at all and the opposition parties had several options available to them.
“We are not ready to go back from our call of protest in March,” he declared.
The PPP leader said he had earlier called 2020 the year of elections because of the economic situation and worst kind of unemployment in the country and he still believed that the current year would be the “year of change.”
“Everyone is suffering due to price hike and unemployment. The way the PTI government has forcefully thrust this IMF deal on us, the way taxes are being raised, the way life is being taken out of our economy, because of that we believe the people of this country cannot tolerate this government for very long,” he said.
He said the incumbent rulers were incapable of holding negotiations with the IMF (International Monetary Fund). He said his party had rejected the “PTI-MF deal” for the way it “compromised on the rights of the people of Pakistan, attacked the economic sovereignty of the country”.
He called on the government to quit the deal and renegotiate it afresh and bring forward a “people-friendly plan” which respected Pakistan’s economic sovereignty.
He said the government was not serious in solving the people’s problems. Agriculture was backbone of the national economy but the government had ignored it because it had no interest in the people or their problems, he added.
Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2020