KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Friday pinned hopes on the prime minister’s visit to Karachi, anticipating Imran Khan would be coming to the city on Saturday (today) with massive financial support for disaster-hit Sindh.
At the same time, the PPP leader termed Khan-led administration a “puppet government” which was allegedly weakening the federation by not releasing funds to the provincial government.
Addressing a press conference at the Chief Minister House, the PPP chairman came up with a list of demands and also with criticism ahead of Mr Khan’s scheduled visit to Karachi, saying he expected the premier would come up with rehabilitation, reconstruction and relief plans not for Karachi alone but for the entire province.
Asked about the financial assistance provided by the Centre to the PPP government in Sindh so far, he sounded angry and came up with a strong reaction repeating his term “puppet government” for the federal government of Pakistan Tehreek-i- Insaf.
Calls for withdrawal of K-Electric tariff raise
“They should know that it’s not their personal money [Baap ka paisa],” he said. “On one hand, the PM makes promises for betterment of Karachi and Sindh and on the other federal ministers assert that they would not pay a penny to Sindh. This is public money which should be spent on the public. This attitude in fact weakens the federation.”
He endorsed the demand Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah made of the federal government, to provide matching funds for the 24 uplift projects worth Rs802.39 billion for the transformation of Karachi.
“If the amount we demand is allocated, we are sure that most issues of the city can be resolved. We need massive support from the federal government to pull the city out of this disastrous situation,” said Mr Bhutto-Zardari.
He asked the federal government to withdraw the recent raise in electricity tariff for K-Electric consumers. He wondered why the tariff was increased when electricity was not available in the city.
The federal government on Thursday had approved an increase in electricity tariff for the Karachi consumers by nearly 26 per cent with immediate effect. The ECC said that it had approved the summary moved by the Power Division for the rationalisation of 11 quarterly adjustments of K-Electric from July 2016 to March 2019.
“I can’t understand how they made such a decision, particularly in these times when the KE has failed to deliver,” said the PPP chairman.
Answering a question, he defended the performance of the Sindh government which has come under criticism from different segments of society for failing to meet the challenges posed by the recent monsoon rains. For his argument, he referred to the comments of Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.
“Even our army chief visited the city and shared his thoughts that no administration can handle a disaster of such a level. So one should not blame the Sindh government for this disaster. Our CM has even visited those places where he does not have any authority and extended his help out of humanity and on moral grounds,” he added.
“The people are frustrated. They are angry because of the difficult situation they are facing. Their issues should be resolved,” he said.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the Sindh government was doing everything possible to provide them relief. However, he said that funds for rehabilitation of the infrastructure would not be sufficient, the federal government should also consider payment of compensation to those who had lost their livelihoods in the record rains.
Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2020