MUZAFFARABAD: Terming July 25 as a test for the Kashmiris, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari asserted on Friday that his party was bound to clinch a sweeping victory if polls were held in a free, fair and transparent manner.
Wrapping up the campaign of his party on return from the United States by addressing two big gatherings in Bagh and Muzaffarabad, he maintained that both Prime Minister Imran Khan and PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz would forget the Kashmiris after holding rallies during the election campaign but his party would always remain on their side because the relations between the two [PPP and the Kashmiris] dated back to three generations.
“We have a relationship of sacrifices with the Kashmiris, not of the votes,” he said at a rally in Bagh, adding the PPP had always raised its voice and would continue to raise it for the rights of the Kashmiris.
In Muzaffarabad, he said the people of the state capital had shaken both Delhi and Islamabad by showing up in huge numbers at the PPP rally.
Wraps up PPP’s campaign before July 25 elections
“All eyes are on Muzaffarabad today. On the one hand a puppet (a reference to Prime Minister Imran Khan) is shocked and on the other Modi is worried that a jiyala (PPP loyalist) is going to become the prime minister of Azad Kashmir,” he said.
“Look at the sea of people and the enthusiasm of PPP women and PSF and rethink about the authenticity of your analysis that PPP is finished,” he said, while calling out the political analysts sitting in Islamabad.
He said people of Muzaffarabad had once made history by supporting Quaid-i-Awam Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and then they made history by supporting Benazir Bhutto, and today he had come to them to seek their support and votes.
“Only one party, the PPP, which has defeated the dictators, is capable of keeping the incompetent, inefficient and illegitimate so-called change at a bay in Azad Kashmir,” he said of the PTI. He maintained that the thinking and philosophy of PPP in the case of Kashmir was emphasis on referendum and that had not changed.
“The motto of the upcoming poll is that the Kashmiris will decide the fate of Kashmir,” he said. He reiterated that only the Kashmiris will have the right to decide the future status of their motherland.
“PPP will not take the dictates of Islamabad and Delhi in the case of Kashmir. Only the people of Kashmir will decide the fate of Kashmir.”
He said that PPP’s economic policies were people-friendly unlike those of PML-N and PTI. He said PPP had not only launched the Benazir Income Support Programme for the poor and needy, it had also increased salaries and pensions of civil servants and army personnel from 120 to 170 per cent, because it believes that the state had to take care of the weak.
“When the PPP forms government in [Azad] Kashmir, it will create more jobs apart from raising salaries and pensions in the first place,” he said.
Chiding the federal ministers, Mr Bhutto-Zardari alleged that they wanted to buy Kashmiri votes by distributing money disregarding the fact that the Kashmiris were a brave and principled nation and would not succumb to money or bribes.
Similarly, he said, the use of foul language by the federal ministers was also disliked by the Kashmiris for not being in line with their political traditions.
Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2021