• Lawmakers to protest outside parliament the day ‘mini-budget’ is put to vote
• No-trust move against speaker yet to get party’s nod
• Says PPP not waiting for any green signal to launch anti-govt campaign
LAHORE: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday announced that PPP would start its long march on Islamabad against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government on Feb 27.
“The deteriorating economic conditions have worried people, who are fed up of the incompetent and inept rulers and want to get rid of them at the earliest. Therefore, we have decided to launch a long march against the government from Feb 27. It will start from Mazar-i-Quaid (mausoleum of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi),” he told a press conference here on Thursday after a meeting of the PPP’s core committee, which validated the decisions earlier taken by the party’s Central Executive Committee and Federal Council.
He said the PPP was entering the second phase of its protest immediately by holding rallies at the divisional level to show solidarity with farmers, who were running from pillar to post to get fertiliser for the most important wheat crop, against the record high inflation and unemployment.
Answering a question about the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) long march on March 23, the PPP chairman said the opposition alliance, of which his party had been a part, did not consult him about their protest plan so both the PPP and PDM were free to follow their respective strategies.
He said he was under pressure from his party to launch an anti-government drive at the earliest as the people could no longer wait for the ouster of the Imran Khan government that had brought the country to the brink of an economic disaster and made the people poorer.
He, however, said the more forces take to the streets against the government the better it would be.
Suspecting the government would try to manipulate the voting process for getting the mini-budget passed in the National Assembly session starting next Monday, he said the PPP parliamentarians would protest outside parliament the day the mini-budget would be put to vote. He hoped other opposition parties would join them and block the passage of the supplementary finance bill (generally known as mini-budget). He alleged the country’s economic sovereignty was being surrendered through the mini-budget.
Replying to a query, Bilawal said no decision could be taken about moving a no-confidence motion against the National Assembly speaker.
He told a questioner that statements by an institution’s spokesperson about their neutrality in politics were a welcome step and hoped the words would be honoured. He said history was witness to the role of the establishment in politics and the PPP had a clear stance about the “selection of Imran Khan” (as the prime minister).
He negated the impression that his party was waiting for a green signal from any quarter for launching the anti-government movement. “Those who engage in the politics of deals do not have graveyards full of martyrs,” he commented.
Bilawal told a questioner that his party discussed electoral alliances, but could not reach a conclusion because, as the government-in-waiting, each and every seat was important for it.
Replying to a question about his income tax, the PPP chief said it was flabbergasting to see that at a time when the whole country was getting poorer the prime minister got richer by 5,800 per cent. He recalled that Imran Khan, while in the opposition, had claimed that rulers became richer through corruption.
He also raised the issue of the PTI’s foreign funding, saying odd companies, including those working against the people of Iraq and Abraaj Group facing corruption charges in the US, had been donating to the PTI.
“We demand fresh, fair and transparent elections in the country because the only solution to the problems of the people is democracy, democracy and more democracy. We demand the ECP take action against the PTI, which hid its foreign funding for seven years.”
Answering a question, he said “roti, kapra aur makan” had always been and would be the basis of the PPP election manifesto.
Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2022