FOREIGN Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi condoles with Ameer Bakhsh Bhutto over the death of his father Mumtaz Bhutto at the latter’s residence in the city on Wednesday.—PPI
FOREIGN Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi condoles with Ameer Bakhsh Bhutto over the death of his father Mumtaz Bhutto at the latter’s residence in the city on Wednesday.—PPI

KARACHI: A key member of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet claimed on Wednesday that the people of Pakistan Peoples Party-governed Sindh wanted change, predicting alternative leadership here in the next general election for which the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf would be campaigning aggressively in every town and district of the province.

The sketchy plan of the PTI for Sindh was shared by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi during a visit to the DHA residence of Amir Bux Bhutto, where he had gone to condole the death of his father and former Sindh chief minister Mumtaz Ali Bhutto. Mr Qureshi showed confidence that “it’s bound to happen”.

“Is it an anti-democracy act or against the law if the PTI comes to Sindh, meets people and invites them to join the party?” he said in response to a query about the PTI plans for the province. “Why is there so much hue and cry over this? We are not here to conquer the people but to serve them. We are here to tell the people that they have an alternative. The people of Sindh trusted the Zardari family, voted for them and made sacrifices for them. But the sufferings of the people of Sindh are no longer a secret.”

He referred to law and order in the province and the status of governance, calling it being at its “worst”. To strengthen his argument, he referred to the recent cases against members of the Hindu community and workers of the Bheel Intellectual Forum in Tharparkar only for protesting over the death of a young man while being in detention of a private coal mining company as a suspect of theft in the organisation. He alleged misappropriation and bad governance when it came to supply of Covid-19 vaccines in Sindh.

“They [Sindh government] didn’t spare the [Covid-19] vaccines,” he said without going into details of the issue. “They didn’t spare the thing [vaccine] which is being supplied free of cost. What can you expect from them? They talk too much about the 18th Amendment and take its credit. So I ask them after the 18th Amendment, who’s responsible for this poor health system in the province? Who’s responsible for bandits’ rule in the katcha areas? The answer is the Sindh government.”

He criticised the “double standards” of the PPP, which expected democratic norms at the centre, rule of law in other provinces and human rights at international forums, but never allowed any such traditions in Sindh where it had been ruling for more than 12 years.

“It can no more be tolerated,” he said. “Don’t the people of Sukkur, Larkana and Hyderabad have right over all these traditions? Yes, they do have and they will get their rights. This province has several families which have roots in the people who have direct family and traditional relations with the people of this province. These families think differently and don’t agree with the provincial government. Don’t they have the right to live and do politics? They do have and they will exercise this right.”

While replying to a question about his views on the recent Azad Kashmir election, the foreign minister called results of valley polls as a “verdict” of the people, and made a big prediction for Sindh considering the recent history of electoral politics in Pakistan.

“Azad Kashmir has given its verdict,” he said while brushing aside the allegations of rigging by rival parties. “It’s a fact and you need to accept it. But if you don’t, it would not stop political process. In the 2013 polls, I predicted that after Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the PTI would be there in Punjab, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan as well. Today there’s a need that we reach out to the people of Sindh because they want change. The people of Sindh are fed up with the rampant corruption and bad governance for the last 13 years. Can they get any alternative? If you ask my opinion, the verdict of Sindh will be different from the past in the next general election.”

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2021

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