Govts cannot be run through charity, magic: Bilawal

Says mini-budget reflects no signs of PTI’s 100-day plan

Riazul Haq October 03, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Launching a subtle yet stinging attack on the newly formed government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has said the economy cannot be run on charity and the country cannot be run through magic.

“We had lots of expectations [from the new government] but we see no sign of its 100-day plan in the budget. We have got a ‘purana’ [meaning old] budget,” said the youthful PPP leader during his speech in the National Assembly on Wednesday before the passage of mini-budget.

Bilawal said the PTI had made tall claims before the July 25 general election, but “now even the PTI voter was disappointed by the recent steps of the new government” that took oath on August 18.

He said they were told that there would be no begging bowel and no new loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “But we saw the PM go to Saudi Arabia with a begging bowl,” he said, asking why was “this secrecy, lies and lack of transparency” on that visit.

The PPP chief said they were ‘hearing’ that the government was planning to undermine the 18th Constitutional Amendment that had enhanced the provincial autonomy.

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“Let me be clear, don’t you dare do that. The PPP will not allow this government to usurp the rights of people, undermine the federation and the basic principles of the 1973 Constitution,” he said.

He asked Finance Minister Asad Umer to clarify whether the government was going to the ‘old’ IMF in the ‘naya’ Pakistan. “But I can confirm that you are going [to the IMF],” he added.

Bilawal said the new government had created a lot of confusion that would not end with the IMF. “There are also these irresponsible statements [by the government] about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the people of Pakistan want a clarification from the government in this regard.”

Touching another sensitive subject, the PPP leader wondered whether the government realised that any corrective steps would be in vain “unless the government addresses the elephant in the room, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)” – an international authority seeking steps from Islamabad to curb terror financing.

“Will the finance minister talk about the progress that has so far been made as the FATF team will be arriving this month? What steps is the government taking to ensure that we are not put on its blacklist,” he asked.

Bilawal also questioned whether the government realised consequences of non-compliance of the 27 action plan points provided by the FATF that would drastically impact trade, exports and business.

“The problem is that this government sees no need to brief parliament… the lack of transparency tells about the lack of accountability. Patronising banned organisations and striking electoral alliances with them is affecting our image. Even cabinet members meet such people in the prison,” he added.

He also expressed concerns over curbs on free media and said the press is a fundamental component of democracy. He said the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists had protested against lack of press freedom in ‘naya’ Pakistan.

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“We must learn to accept the difference of opinion and learn from constructive criticism. When we leave no room for dissent, we leave no room for progress. The government must guarantee freedom of the press in Pakistan,” he said.

Obliquely alluding to the PTI’s 2014 sit-in that continued for months, the PPP chairman said there is a difference between sit-in and running a government. “You need serious policymaking, tough decisions… and not U-turns,” he stressed.

He expressed the desire to work with the government to boost the agriculture and economy, and education and health of the countrymen but said despite all the tall claims the government had not lived up to the expectations of the common Pakistani.



stevenson | 4 years ago | Reply Actually what Bilwal says makes a lot of sense. After 20 years of hurling abuse and doing dharnas, you would think PTI and Imran Khan would have a plan of action. Instead they keep blaming problems on the previous governments and I suppose the army which ruled for most of Pakistan's existence. So if PTI has no plan apart from hurling abuse, what does it hope to achieve in government ? What about all their promises of magically turning around things in a few weeks? I suppose that's what we get for drinking the Kool Aid !
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