Solution to country's problems lies in fulfilment of Benazir's vision, says Bilawal
PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Monday that the only solution to the problems Pakistan was facing in present times was the fulfillment of former prime minister and slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto's vision.
Bilawal, who was addressing a public rally held in Sindh's Garhi Khuda Baksh to observe Benazir's 14th death anniversary, began his speech with an ode to his late mother.
Benazir was assassinated in a gun-and-bomb attack after an election rally in Liaquat Bagh on Dec 27, 2007.
"It has been 14 years [since Benazir's assasination], and we still remember Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. The people of Pakistan still remember Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto," he said.
"Shaheed BB your beloved Pakistan is facing a difficult time. Your beloved Pakistan is [now] a democracy only in name."
Bilawal went on to say neither was there any "freedom to speak nor the freedom to live" in today's Pakistan. More so, he added, the country was also facing economic difficulties and the poor had been abandoned.
"There is only one solution to the problems of Pakistan," he said. "There is just one way, one party, one political philosophy and one manifesto that holds the solution to these problems ... And that is the vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto."
'Govt selling out martyrs' blood'
The PPP chief also criticised the government for "selling out the blood of our martyrs" by "striking deals with terrorists".
He said when the PPP was in government, it had valiantly fought terrorism in the country and established the writ of the state.
"We, our soldiers and our people, defeated the same terrorists whom the entire world couldn't defeat in Afghanistan," Bilawal said, without naming any terrorist organisation.
"But the incumbent government is selling out the blood of our martyrs ... the prime minister and the president have bowed down to them (terrorists), they are begging for a deal. But the terrorists have turned them away," he said. "But the jiyalas of the PPP and BB are still standing firm to fight those terrorists."
The PPP, he said, didn't believe in deals, and added that Benazir was being wrongly accused of entering a deal on the eve of her assassination. Apparently making a reference to reports of a power-sharing deal between Benazir and then-president Pervez Musharraf, Bilawal said that the PPP did not practice "non-democratic politics".
"We do not need a deal. Our deal is with the people of Pakistan."
'Govt neither believes in democracy nor in provincial autonomy'
Referring to a slogan raised by the PPP with regards to punishing Benazir's killers, Bilawal recalled: "We said democracy is the best revenge."
"And we had restored democracy [in Pakistan] through the 18th Amendment and the National Finance Commission (NFC) award. We empowered parliament, and the PPP was the first party in the country that completed its five-year term in the government," he added.
The 18th Amendment and the NFC, he said, restored democracy and empowered provinces.
"And when you empower provinces, you solve people's problems."
He expressed regret, saying that the application of the 18th amendment and the NFC award was not seen after the PPP's tenure.
There were "attacks" on democracy after that, he said.
"At times through an RO (returning officer) election and other times through an RTS (Results Transmission System) election," he added, making references to allegations of rigging during elections.
He alleged that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf led government wanted to "snatch provinces' rights and end provincial autonomy".
"But we will not let them do so," he asserted. "When provinces are not given their rights, people suffer."
Bilawal further alleged that the mandate of the people had been stolen and now, "they [masses] have to endure puppets and selected rulers and bear the burden of an incompetent and inefficient prime minister."
"This government neither believes in democracy nor in provincial autonomy," he remarked.
Turning his attention to the economy, he said the country's people "are drowning in a tsunami of inflation and facing a storm of taxes".
He claimed that unemployment and poverty had risen to historic levels.
And this turmoil would continue to increase till "our economy remains enslaved to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and is managed by this inefficient government".
At the end of his address, Bilawal urged PPP workers and supporters to campaign for and revive the party.
"We have to take our message to every corner of the country," he said, announcing that the PPP central executive committee would establish its base in Lahore on January 5, on the birth anniversary of late party founder and former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
"The story of this government's end will begin in the very city where the PPP's foundation was laid," he said.
After Bilawal, PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari assured said the PPP would form the next government in the country.
"Your fortunes and those of the poor will change. And Bilawal will change those fortunes," he said, adding that they were trying their best to fulfill the promises made to Benazir and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.