Govt, opposition trade barbs on polling day anniversary

Published July 26, 2020
Imran Khan casts his vote at a polling station in Islamabad on July 25, 2018. ─ AP/File
Imran Khan casts his vote at a polling station in Islamabad on July 25, 2018. ─ AP/File

• Minister says outdated, corrupt system based on nepotism was defeated on July 25 two years ago
• PML-N, PPP question fairness of last election, allege mandate was stolen and given to PTI

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: As the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government celebrated the second anniversary of its success in the July 25, 2018 general election on Saturday, opposition parties used the occasion to accuse the government of having failed in ensuring the promised governance.

A message came from Informa­tion Minister Senator Shibli Faraz, who felicitated the nation, terming July 25, 2018 as a historic day in the country’s democratic history as on that day the people of Pak­istan had joined hands to lay the foundation of a new thought process.

In the recorded message released to the media, the minister said that an outdated, privileged and corrupt system based on nepotism and favoritism was defeated in the general election on that day.

He said the founders of the outdated system had only pursued their personal interests by ruining the national institutions and economy.

Leaders of both main opposition parties — the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party — held press conferences to reject the government’s claims.

In Lahore, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal questioned the fairness of the elections, while in Islamabad PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari claimed that 90 per cent of the “Forms 45” were still either not available or without signatures of the political agents.

However, Shibli Faraz reminded them of the circumstances in which the PTI took charge. “When the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf came to power, the country was mired in the debt trap and facing serious economic difficulties and challenges. However under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan the country set off on the path of reforms with a new determination,” he said.

He highlighted the achievements of the government, including vigorously highlighting the Kashmir issue at the international level.

The achievements of the government at the home front, Mr Faraz said, included success of Kamyab Naujawan programme, uniform curricula, the Billion Tree Tsunami project, acceleration in work on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects, start of construction of the dam and the launch of a housing project for low-income groups.

“This is the beginning of a new journey of development in the country,” the minister said.

Murad Saeed, federal minister for communication and postal services, also held a press conference. He came prepared at the Press Information Department (PID), armed with old pictures and video clips to slam the leadership of both the PPP and the PML-N. However, the system at the PID could not support his media files and they remained inaudible.

Mr Saeed started by giving historic references about the start of politics by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, showing his pictures with the military dictator of that time Gen Ayub Khan.

“Who was your daddy, when you took the oath,” he asked, referring to Mr Bhutto and continued to respond to every accusation made by the PPP chairperson against the incumbent government and PM Khan.

He said that billboards showing atrocities in held Kashmir were taken down during the visit of then Indian premier Rajiv Gandhi to Islamabad in the late 1980s when Benazir Bhutto was in power.

“Before you ask us about our performance we have the right to ask about your achievements during five decades and three-generation rule in Sindh,” Mr Saeed said, adding, “do you remember the 50 years old slogan of ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makan’? Has it been delivered to the masses of Sindh?”

He said Sindh was the only province where children were dying of hunger and “dog bite is a serious issue and that too in the constituency of Mr junior Zardari.”

He soon turned his guns towards the PML-N and showed picture of Nawaz Sharif with Gen Ziaul Haq.

“This man went to film actor Rangila to become a film actor but failed. Later he made efforts to become a cricketer but it was soon found out that he performed well only with the help of umpires,” Mr Saeed said about the PML-N leader. “His politics was a product of Gen Zia and Gen Jilani.”

He showed footage of Khawaja Asif addressing a think tank in the US but as the audio system was not working the minister said that Mr Asif had claimed in the US that his party was liberal and described Imran Khan as a staunch and practicing Muslim.

The minister reiterated that the leadership of the PML-N and the PPP were corrupt and used state resources to benefit their businesses or that of their friends. That was why subsidies were provided to various sectors including sugar, energy, wheat, etc and the respective governments did not conduct any inquiry into their malpractices while they were fleecing the ordinary citizens.

Besides, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser in a video statement said that July 25 was the day for the victory of the middle class in general elections.

Earlier, PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal told reporters that two years ago on this date, the PML-N’s mandate was stolen and given to the PTI, and since then the masses have been facing its disastrous consequences.

Mr Iqbal said that according to a public survey before the 2018 polls, the PML-N was winning 120 National Assembly seats and the PTI 65. “But massive rigging was done to steal the PML-N’s mandate and give it to the PTI. Even when the results of July 25, 2018 polls started coming in, the PML-N was leading. Then the Results Transmission System stopped functioning and the desired results were achieved,” he alleged.

He said that during its tenure the PML-N had overcome energy crisis, maintained law and order, eliminated terrorism and strengthened the economy, which was why the people had voted for it, but their mandate was stolen.

The former federal minister said that country’s economy, which was progressing by 5.8 per cent two years ago, was now showing negative figures. “And this has happened because this is the most inept and incompetent government in the country’s history,” he alleged.

He said whatever the PML-N government had achieved on the economic front was lost by the PTI government. “For good defence, a strong economy is needed and for a strong economy, a stable political system is required,” he said, adding that economy could not be run through political victimisation of the National Accountability Bureau and handing over to mafias. The PML-N leader alleged that CPEC was placed on the backburner by the incumbent government as it was busy only on social media.

“This government has miserably failed in achieving the tax collection target and also introduced two failed amnesty schemes,” he said and demanded the country be run through the Constitution otherwise it will lag behind even African countries in the coming days.

“During our government, the US dollar rate was between Rs100 and Rs110, but now it has crossed Rs160 and our currency is the weakest in the region. This is because of the imposition of the inept PTI government on the people,” he lamented.

The former interior minister said a multi-party conference would be held after Eid and a strategy framed to get rid of this government.

Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2020


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