Elections, democracy stalled for Nawaz’s return, says Bilawal

Published October 19, 2023
WEARING keffiyeh scarves to show solidarity with Pales­tine, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and his sister Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari wave to the crowd in a rally on the 16th anniversary of Karsaz bombing.—Shakil Adil / White Star
WEARING keffiyeh scarves to show solidarity with Pales­tine, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and his sister Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari wave to the crowd in a rally on the 16th anniversary of Karsaz bombing.—Shakil Adil / White Star

KARACHI: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leadership on Wednesday accused the ‘state’ of making all-out efforts to bring back PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, even at the cost of damaging democratic norms and delaying general elections beyond the constitutionally-mandated deadline.

While addressing a rally marking the 16th anniversary of Karsaz bombing on ex-premier Benazir Bhutto’s homecoming convoy that claimed over 200 lives, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari though welcomed the expected return of the elder Sharif on Saturday, he was critical about the ‘old tactics’ being used to favour one party and corner all others.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari was sure it was only the elder Sharif’s impending return that had kept the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from giving an election schedule. “I hope after all such effort put by the state, the welcome [of Nawaz Sharif] would be a good show,” he said. “It’s a good omen that someone is returning home. Everyone should make his contribution to solve the challenges being faced by the country. But we have seen that for only one person, the democratic norms and Constitution were compromised and elections were delayed.”

The PPP chairman questioned ECP’s ‘silence’ over election schedule and in a jibe targeting the constitutional body expressed the ‘hope’ that with the elder Sharif’s return, it would finally announce an election date.

Criticises ‘old tactics’ of favouring one party, cornering all others; seeks end to ‘politics of abuse’

Without calling it party’s election campaign, Mr Bhutto-Zardari announced launch of a people’s contact drive to press the authorities concerned for respecting the voting right of masses. He said he would tour every nook and corner of the country to mobilise people for their right to vote.

Politics of abuse

He said he wanted to put an end to the ‘politics of divide and abuse’, reminding the parties that if they kept fighting with one another, the country would never progress. At the same time, he wanted that the individuals and groups be prosecuted and penalised that defied the Cons­titution, attacked the institutions and comprised over national security.

“We demanded that those who violated the Constitution, attacked the institutions and made compromises over national security be punished. The people of Pakistan should be aware of who was wrong and who was right,” he said.

Referring to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the PPP chairman said, “President [Asif Ali] Zardari was criticised for his frequent China visits [during the PPP rule between 2008-13]. The same people who had been criticising him then, are now taking credit for CPEC. And we are determined that the PPP would initiate another economic corridor to create job opportunities if we are elected again.”

PM must not stay silent over Gaza

The former foreign minister was visibly angry, in his opening remarks, when he referred to the ‘genocide’ of Palestinians in Gaza and called the assault from the Israeli forces ‘barbaric and inhuman’.

With younger sister standing beside him and both cladding keffiyeh scarves to show solidarity with Pales­tine, Mr Bhutto-Zardari dem­an­ded the caretaker “government do whatever it can for Palestinian brethren”.

“We let remind the prime minister and the government that you are not only representatives of Pakistan. You are also representatives of Palestine. You cannot stay silent. You cannot stay detached and you cannot stay [silent] amid whatever is happening in Palestine. Do whatever you can. Let me assure you, the people of Palestine, you were not alone yesterday and you are not alone today, you won’t be alone tomorrow, you won’t ever be alone as long as Pakistan exists.”

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2023

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