In NA speech, Bilawal lambastes PTI for inviting ‘interference’ from same quarters it ‘lectures’

Published May 15, 2024
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks in the National Assembly on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks in the National Assembly on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Wednesday lambasted the PTI for inviting “interference from the same people” that its leaders recently “lectured” on the importance of upholding the Constitution.

Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, Bilawal, while being jeered by lawmakers associated with the PTI, questioned why their party’s leadership wanted to have a dialogue with the military establishment but not political parties.

“While upholding the Constitution, they do not talk with politicians,” he said. “To uphold the Constitution, they are making the same people — who the opposition leader (Omar Ayub) was lecturing […] that do not interfere in politics — interfere by forcefully grabbing their feet.”

In April, former premier Imran Khan had said some PTI leaders were still in contact with the establishment but then party leader Gohar Khan had denied any “secret talks”.

Earlier this month, Imran had linked any potential dialogue with the return of his party’s “stolen mandate” and the release of “innocent imprisoned workers”. On Monday, he had said he would not seek a deal to leave the country while the next day, he signalled a willingness to engage in reconciliation talks with the ruling coalition, but only if certain tough conditions were met.

Speaking on the floor of the lower house of the Parliament today, Bilawal said, “They talk one thing, but their politics is different.

“According to them, they are fighting for the supremacy of the Constitution, the rule of law and haqeeqi azadi, [but] they only want to talk with our armies,” he asserted.

At the outset of his speech, Bilawal called for the PTI to fulfil its role in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where it is in power, adding that it was instead “only crying about their own matters”, causing an uproar among the opposition benches.

Detailing the PPP’s work, he said, “The province of Sindh invites the PTI and their government to come and visit our hospitals; we would show them and teach them how free and quality treatment is provided to the poor public.

“We are ready to work with your government as well that there should be free and quality treatment in Peshawar such as the NICVD (National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases),” he added.

At one point during his speech, the PPP chairman said he would like to express his dismay at the opposition’s “non-serious attitude”, at which the opposition benches voiced protest.

In the past few days, the NA has seen frequent protests and heated exchanges between the treasury and the opposition benches.

On Monday, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had launched a blistering counterattack against PTI’s Omar Ayub after the latter suggested that violators of the Constitution should be tried for treason under Article 6 (high treason). In response the next day, Ayub had termed Asif’s statements as “personal” and “unwarranted”.

Wheat crisis

Bilawal also called attention to farmers protesting in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan, saying that the PPP, PML-N and PTI all agreed on agriculture being the backbone of the economy.

“This is an issue in which all parties should be on one page. This House demands accountability on the financial murder of farmers that happened and is still under way,” Bilawal said as he lashed out at the caretaker government for its decision to import wheat.

He said the decision had immensely negatively hurt the farmers, the agriculture sector, the public and the country’s economy.

Bilawal called for an end to formation of endless committees and said immediate action must be taken to rectify the situation and address farmers’ concerns.

“To add insult to injury … there was also a restriction on exporting wheat so what is a farmer to do,” he said, adding that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif should find out who were the individuals and bureaucrats involved in the affair and take immediate action against them.

Bilawal said the country had suffered in the matter due to decisions of “undemocratic, unelected, inept and incapable” individuals.

The PPP chairman called for an immediate removal of the export restriction on wheat to give urgent benefit to farmers.

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