KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday said that any move to change the administrative status of Karachi under legal cover would be a second such ‘attack’ on the province after the ‘judicial murder’ of former prime minister and founding chief of the party Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
However, in the same breath he expressed the hope that no such move would emerge and the challenges would be met with consensus and national unity instead of playing politics on national issues.
Addressing a press conference along with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and key members of the Sindh cabinet at the Sindh Assembly auditorium, he also expressed confidence in the judiciary, saying it would play its role and would not support any undemocratic move and would stand by the Constitution and the law.
“God willing, no such thing would happen,” he responded immediately while replying to a question about a proposed plan of the federal government for Karachi which was recently mentioned by the attorney general in the Supreme Court.
Amid worsening situation of the provincial metropolis, the federal government was considering “available constitutional and legal options” in order to fix problems of Karachi, the attorney general had informed the court.
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“But God forbid anything happens and the PTI government attempts to occupy Sindh capital and make it a colony, it will be solely illegal move. And if they try to give it a judicial cover, then it will be a second such attack after the judicial murder of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. And this would not be acceptable for us. I hope no such thing will happen. It’s most challenging time of our history where we are facing issues from economy to social sector. There is a need for unity and more focus on the main issues.”
About the role of his and other opposition parties in parliament during the recent legislation and passing amendments to some crucial laws, he said the PPP went to all extents to support the government only to save Pakistan from the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). But, he claimed, the government was demanding more than requirements of the FATF, which his party would not support.
“We are against three bills,” said Mr Bhutto-Zardari. “Among them are CrPC Amendment Bill, the Economic Terrorism Bill and the AMLA [Anti-Money Laundering] Bill. They are not only more than the requirement of the FATF, but they would also compromise basic human rights. The PPP has accepted the FATF and constitutional requirements under the democratic process, but not the undemocratic ones through which they are trying to obtain dictatorial powers.”
The PPP chairman looked visibly angry when the performance of his 12-year government in Sindh was questioned along with the role of the provincial administration during the Covid-19 crisis.
He asked media persons: “Please don’t be a tout of the establishment”.
He said: “It doesn’t make sense to insult our intelligence and people on the ground during the coronavirus crisis. Our policy is very clear and that is to save people’s lives. Today every international body including the Bill Gates Foundation and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are lauding the role of the Sindh government. So don’t repeat the establishment’s point.”
The auditorium of the Sindh Assembly burst into roars of laughter when the PPP chairman after a pause told the journalists that he had been advised not to use the word ‘establishment’ during the press conference.
“Now you can imagine how free we are. And definitely we are going to celebrate the Independence Day tomorrow [Aug 14],” he said with a broad smile on his face.
Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2020