ISLAMABAD: Terming accountability a mere joke, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Friday said two laws prevailed in the country — one for the former prime minister from Raiwind and the other for the ex-president from Nawabshah.
Addressing a press conference at the Zardari House on Friday, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said despite conviction, the ex-prime minister (Nawaz Sharif) had been allowed to live abroad while the former president (Asif Ali Zardari) was still residing in the country and refusing to travel abroad for medical treatment despite pleading by his children.
PPP leaders Farhatullah Babar, Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, Senator Palwasha Khan and Faisal Karim Kundi were also present on the occasion.
The PPP chairman said there was one Pakistan for the leader of the opposition from Raiwind (Shehbaz Sharif) and another for the leader of the opposition from Sukkur (Khursheed Shah) who had been running from pillar to post for over two years just to get bail.
He said this scenario was surprising for him and he was still looking for an answer.
However, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said despite the differences and inappropriate behaviour of some PML-N people, his party members were ready to cooperate with Shehbaz Sharif to thwart the budget.
Ready to cooperate with Shehbaz during upcoming budget
“PPP members would come and vote on the day of the budget and then it was up to Shehbaz Sharif as opposition leader in the National Assembly to stop the government from passing the budget,” he said.
Replying to a question, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had the right to have his say, adding that PPP had a political relation of three generations with his party.
“If the parties in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) had been truthful in their resolve to resign from parliament, they would have done so the very next day we objected to linking of the long march with resignations,” he said.
The PPP chairman said Punjab had been left at the mercy of Usman Buzdar, adding that facilitators of the government were those who did not want to dislodge Imran Khan and Buzdar despite having the numbers in the parliament to do so.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari further said that fair distribution of water was essential not only for Sindh but for the entire country.
Briefing on Afghanistan issue
The PPP chairman called for a briefing on the situation in Afghanistan.
“We demand that you create a forum, be it a parliamentary committee or a body headed by the National Assembly speaker, to take the parliament into confidence and devise a comprehensive policy,” he said.
He said the Pakistan Media Development Authority Ordinance was an attempt to control media just like it was done during the period of Gen Ziaul Haq.
“We have condemned the attack on Asad Ali Toor and filing of a petition against Asma Shirazi and Hamid Mir,” he said, adding that the government was showing its weakness by not being able to tolerate the truth.
Coming down hard on Prime Minister Imran Khan, the PPP chairman said: “The selected PM is now saying that if he gets another term he will carry out accountability, which is nothing more than a joke.”
Accusing Imran Khan of double standards, he said: “The present government is involved in political revenge and political engineering. I ask the prime minister where is accountability and justice? If the prime minister’s friends are accused, they do not go to jail, if he himself is accused, nothing happens and if his sister is accused, no action is taken again.”
Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said inflation had made the lives of people miserable as they were unable to manage their budgets, adding that neither PM Khan nor his ministers had anything to do with the common man.
“The government is not aware of the plight of the common man; the prime minister says hard times are over, but that is only in the case of his ATM machines,” he added.
The PPP chairman said Imran Khan claimed that the economy was growing when in fact inflation in Pakistan was higher than in all of South Asia.
“If the economy is improving, why are you begging in the world; why do you not kick out the IMF,” he asked.
He demanded the government to raise the salaries and pensions of government employees and soldiers if the economic situation had improved.
“Increase the salaries of government employees by 100 per cent, pensions by 150pc and salaries of soldiers by 175pc,” he said.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari said everyone, including Shaukat Tarin, had started accepting PPP’s position.
“Former president Asif Ali Zardari used to say that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and economy cannot go hand in hand and the government has now accepted this,” he said, adding that the finance minister was himself saying that the deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was wrong.
He said the rulers were afraid of people, which was why they were running away from the Azad Kashmir elections.
He said they also tried to create trouble in the Senate but the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) took a stand and did not allow rigging.
“Efforts are being made to bring electoral reforms through ordinances and the Election Commission has to take action. We will send a high-level delegation to the ECP to thwart this attempt,” he added.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued by the Media Cell Bilawal House, the PPP chairman called out Prime Minister Imran Khan for failing to perform during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The PTI government gathered funds from numerous organisations to help the country recover from its health and economic crises caused by the virus. However, seeing the current state of the nation, it is evident the funds were utilised elsewhere,” he said.
He demanded the prime minister to “stop manipulating the data of the Auditor General’s report and release it immediately”, adding that only then could the nation give its verdict on whether those funds were used wisely.
“To fight coronavirus, IMF gave Pakistan $1.5 billion. Where was that aid spent,” Mr Bhutto-Zardari questioned.
Similarly, he asked where were the $1.5 billion provided by the Asian Development Bank and $200 million given by the World Bank utilised.
“Where are the billions of Pakistani rupees deposited in the Prime Minister’s Corona Relief Fund,” the PPP chairman said.
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2021