PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Saturday lashed out at the federal government for the budget it presented a day earlier, and said that record unemployment and inflation had shown the real face of Prime Minister Imran Khan's tabdeeli (change).
Speaking to the media in Mardan, Bilawal termed the budget as an "enemy of the people" and an "economic attack on the people". He said it had been presented at a time when the country was facing high levels of inflation.
"You know that inflation is at a historic level. Our inflation rate is more than war-torn Afghanistan, Bangladesh and India," said Bilawal. This is the real face of Imran's tabdeeli (change)."
The PPP chairman claimed that unemployment and poverty were also at historically high levels.
"(Imran) Khan sahab and his ministers are so embarrassed that they've hidden the figures for poverty and unemployment from the Economic Survey. They think they can hide the fact that poverty and unemployment are at historic levels in the country."
Bilawal alleged that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had seen the most increase in poverty, adding that villagers with livelihoods before the PTI government were now unemployed. "These problems can't be solved through hiding figures."
He said only the PPP had people-friendly economic policies and had given high increase in salaries and pensions during its tenures. Bilawal added the Sindh government would set the minimum wage at Rs25,000 and challenged the federal and provincial governments to do so as well.
"You can't abandon people sinking in the tsunami of inflation due to your incapability and ineptitude. It is the PPP's demand that if this budget has to pass then you have to increase salaries and pensions according to the uptick in inflation," said Bilawal.
In a statement issued earlier today, he said that the PTI would not be permitted to play with the nation’s future. "The PPP will not allow Imran Khan to conduct an economic massacre of the people,” he said.
Bilawal lamented that the prime minister remained "deaf, dumb, and blind" to the issues of the people.
"The year might have changed, but the conditions of the people remain the same. The poor man’s house is still being deprived of the basic necessities. The hearth of the poor man’s house is still quenched," he said.
"By presenting the budget for the fiscal year, Imran Khan clarified his enmity towards the poor. He has exposed his anti-people agenda with the new budget."
The PPP chairman said that while the government was presenting "false facts" in the Economic Survey, government employees were protesting inflation outside Parliament.
“People are now retaliating because they are aware of the puppet prime minister’s empty promises,” he said, “They know it is his habit to talk big and do nothing. He is incompetent and has completely failed to provide relief to a common man.”
Alleged rigging in upcoming AJK election
During his media talk, the PPP chairman also alleged that the government was attempting to rig the upcoming election in Azad Jammu and Kashmir through tactics such as removing PPP candidates and excluding voters from electoral lists.
"We have reservations regarding AJK's electoral race," he said. He lashed out at AJK's prime minister and said he was not supposed to be "one party's servant" but was supposed to represent the people of the region, claiming that the premier and the election commission were colluding with the government.
Claiming that the PPP would win the election in AJK and form a government in the region, Bilawal said that attempts to silence PPP workers through pressure, threats, arrests and cases would be unsuccessful. "PPP workers are the most brave political workers in this country," he said.
"If you arrest my worker's son then I will arrest your son and if you arrest my elders then I will arrest your elders," he warned.
Bilawal claimed that once the PPP came into power, it would bring real accountability while also solving the nation's economic problems.
'PDM no longer a democratic movement'
Responding to questions about the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), Bilawal said the PPP had once made the mistake of boycotting elections. He added that he had tried to make the other political parties in the PDM understand the need for not abandoning the political battlefield.
"If we had listened to them, then the PTI would've had a super majority in the Senate and the PPP and PML-N wouldn't have had their recent by-poll successes," he said. "No one can teach us how to fight undemocratic powers and how victory is gained. Only the PPP knows how to do that."
Bilawal alleged that the PDM had admitted that resignations from assemblies and boycotting polls were not the right options, despite not accepting it. He went on to say that since the PPP and Awami National Party (ANP) were not a part of the alliance, it was no longer a democratic movement.
Despite the political differences between opposition parties, he reiterated that they were on one page and reminded the crowd of his unconditional support to Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif in giving the government a "tough time".