LAHORE: PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has alleged that the PTI government wants to “murder” former president Asif Ali Zardari through the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
He was speaking at a press conference here on Wednesday in which he, among other issues, dilated upon the “minus one” formula, negated the impression that his party was seeking any concessions from the government, challenged the prime minister to an open debate, chided Imran Khan for the latter’s stance on Osama bin Laden’s death, and disputed the government’s data on coronavirus pandemic.
“The government wants to assassinate [former] president Asif Ali Zardari. When president Zardari was in jail, he was not provided with medicine and today NAB wants him to be infected with Covid-19 by forcing him to appear in court in connection with a case,” he said. “This government does not respect the elderly as well as women but we will not compromise on the 18th Amendment,” he said.
Claims a minister with ‘fake degree’ is ruining PIA
Flanked by Qamar Zaman Kaira, Chaudhry Manzoor, Hassan Murtaza and Samina Ghurki, the PPP chairman said his party did not want any NRO and would continue to give tough time to the “puppet” government no matter how many lawsuits were filed against the party leadership. He dared the government to go for conviction of PPP leaders if it had enough evidence to prove cases [of any wrongdoings].
He said Imran Khan gave several NROs, the first one to his sister Aleema Khan, who had not yet produced her money trail. Imran Khan introduced a general amnesty scheme for “thieves” because he himself took advantage of Gen Musharraf’s amnesty.
“The sugar commission was also an NRO, which was given to Buzdar, Tareen and Asad Umar. The government’s each policy seems to be based on the principle of NRO.”
Mr Bhutto-Zardari told a questioner it was PM Khan and not the opposition parties talking about the “minus one” formula. He said whenever democracy faced threats, the PPP played a vital role in its preservation. He said democracy was threatened by Imran Khan “who is undermining the office of prime minister, parliament and the constitution”.
Responding to a question, he said they didn’t follow the “finger of any umpire” but of the masses and challenged the questioner if his TV channel could telecast evidence of rigging in the last Senate polls.
Asked about the modus operandi to be adopted to oust Imran Khan, he said democracy and the Constitution could provide a solution to the issue and that his party would never go for any unconstitutional option.
Taunting the prime minister, he again challenged him to a debate either in the parliament or on TV.
“PM Imran is so brave that he makes a speech in our absence… Imran Khan is not willing to come in front of us,” he said, adding “Imran Khan is a PM for the PTI’s social media only and not ready to become prime minister of the country.”
He said the prime minister was the first leader of the country to have failed in evolving a national consensus on the Kashmir issue.
Challenging PM Khan’s stance on the death of Osama bin Laden, the PPP chairman said: “If Osama bin Laden is a martyr then what is your stance on Army Public School attack, Zarb-i-Azb (operation) and Swat Operation?”
He said that Pakistan needed a mature prime minister who could tackle its problems.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari disputed the figures being given by the federal government about flattening of the coronavirus curve.
“The coronavirus pandemic is not subsiding in Pakistan as being claimed by the government. The government has not taken any step to deal with the coronavirus,” he said, demanding risk allowance for healthcare workers in Punjab like in Sindh.
He said Pakistan was facing unprecedented challenges but it could be seen in the budget that education, health and unemployment had not been given any priority.
Speaking on the PIA plane crash in Karachi and controversy surrounding the credentials of the pilots, he said the government had turned the crash into an excuse to privatise the national airline. Otherwise, he said, “our pilots are known for their expertise around the world.”
He held the PTI government responsible for the ban on PIA from operating flights to European states.
He said the PIA’s permit to fly to EU countries had been suspended because Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had accused its pilots of holding dubious licences “without any evidence”.
“The minister whose own degree is fake ... levelled this type of allegation against our pilots [leading to] them being banned across the world. No one has caused this type of damage to PIA in the history as this government.”
The PPP leader said that the entire country was proud of Sindh police for thwarting the Pakistan Stock Exchange attack in which four terrorists were killed. He said timely action of Sindh police had saved the nation from catastrophic damage.
He said that Pakistan’s economy improved due to the sacrifices rendered by police and Rangers personnel.
He said the PPP would raise the issue in the proposed multi-party conference of a no-confidence motion against the National Assembly speaker for running the house in a partisan way.
Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2020