PTI's ouster must to save economy, agriculture: Bilawal

Published January 24, 2022
PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addresses a kisan rally in Hyderabad. —  DawnNewsTv
PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari addresses a kisan rally in Hyderabad. — DawnNewsTv

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Monday that the ouster of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government was a must for saving the country's economy and agriculture as the "selected prime minister" was least concerned about the farmers' plight.

He made these remarks during his address at the PPP's Kisan rally, also called the tractor trolley march, at Hyderabad's Fateh Chowk. The rally was organised as part of a wider movement launched by the PPP to extend support to farmers in the facing the ongoing urea shortage and what the party dubs the government's "anti-farmer policies".

In this first phase of the campaign, the PPP had organised marches in Larkana division in Sindh and Okara city of Sahiwal division in Punjab. At the time of the campaign's announcement, the PPP had said the marches would be expanded to other parts of the country from January 24 (today).

To address a rally under this campaign in Hyderabad today, Bilawal had reached the city in a helicopter from Karachi.

In his speech, he maintained that his party, under the leadership of former prime ministers and party leaders Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto, as well as that of the PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, had always worked to bolster the agrarian economy in times when it reached the brink of collapse due to the policies and decisions of rulers of the times.

Likening Prime Minister Imran Khan to such rulers, he said, "this incompetent prime minister has broken the backbone of Pakistan's economy."

He accused the prime minister of "leaving people in a lurch when locusts attacked their farmlands," further berating the premier for "not doing anything to ensure the judicious distribution of water".

And now, he said, "a fertiliser crisis had hit the farmers hard".

Bilawal said the agrarian economy in the country was now facing destruction, after back-to-back crises.

He said the PPP believed that Pakistan's prosperity hinged on farmers' progress.

The PPP chief recalled that when Asif Ali Zardari had taken the reins of the country as the president, consumers were seen forming long queues to get flour and sugar. The newly formed government, under the leadership of Zardari, had doubled the country's wheat production in a year, so much so that Pakistan had started exporting not just wheat, but rice and sugar as well.

But now, he lamented, farmers were forming long queues to get urea.

"And this puppet prime minister has reversed the situation and we might have to import wheat, which will be tantamount to the economic murder of farmers," Bilawal continued, warning that if such a situation arose, "the PPP will not tolerate it."

The PPP chief further said that farmers not getting an adequate price for the produce could lead to trouble for consumers in the future.

He said his party had been raising this issue in parliament, warning that policies leading to these circumstances would eventually result in "farmers' economic murder".

But this government was least bothered about it, he regretted.

He then recalled the efforts of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir for farmers' wellbeing.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, he said, had challenged Pakistan's economic system and introduced land reforms, reducing the size of large landholdings and distributing land among peasants. Similarly, he said, as the prime minister, when Benazir learned that farmers were not getting the adequate price for potato produce, she had issued directives for the government to buy the produce and throw it in the sea for fish.

"She couldn't bear the farmers' economic pain," he commented.

But the PTI government remained unmoved by the farmers' plight, he said, be it the problem of the injudicious water distribution, a urea crisis or locust attacks.

“Therefore, we have decided that enough is enough. There is only one solution to this situation. If we have to save farmers and agrarian economy, we will have to make Imran Khan leave”, he said.

Bilawal said the PPP had already announced that it would start a long march on Islamabad on February 27, adding that "when masses will rise, nobody will be able to stop them from entering the capital."

People had joined Benazir in a long march against the "then-puppet government", he said, expressing a similar resolve to "oust this government democratically, legally and constitutionally”.

Now, he said, "there will be the rule of the people" in this country.

"And only a government, that is truly of people, will be able to resolve this country's problems. Otherwise, there will only be destruction in the name of change," he said.

Criticism against MQM

Turning his guns towards the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), he alleged that "the PTI's facilitators are trying to disrupt peace in Sindh."

“People of this city are aware of their past,“ he said, alluding to the MQM. "And as long as [...] organisations will continue to make people fight [on the basis of ethnic differences], we will not be able to get our rights," he added.

The PPP chief vowed to raise voice for all those living in Sindh. He pledged not to let anyone commit injustices against them, regardless of the language they speak, and urged the people to "foil such conspiracies through their solidarity".

Speaking about the contentious new local government (LG) system being introduced by the PPP in the province, he commented: “Those who are terming new LG system a black law will soon have their faces blackened. They foresee their defeat in LG polls. They will lose in Karachi and Hyderabad and teer [arrow, which is the PPP's electoral symbol] will win. Their disdain would be exposed."

He explained that under the new system, mayors would be able to collect property tax for the first time and then spend it on the upgrade and upkeep of civic infrastructure.

“So, you should not fall prey to their conspiracies," he said, referring to the opposition's criticism of the system, particularly the MQM's.

He said how could those opposing the new system be sincere "when they have been disloyal towards their own quaid (leader)".

"They used to cheer on [their leader's] anti-Pakistan speeches and have confessed [their involvement] in terrorism activities," Bilawal said, adding that "they are the enemy of the people of this city."

"I want a jiyala mayor here,” he said, promising to work with the mayor day in and day out to serve the people.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and other PPP leaders, Miran Mohammad Shah of Sindh Chamber of Agriculture and others also spoke on the occasion.

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