LAHORE: Describing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government as “too insecure”, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has ruled out staging a long march in the coming days.
“No, this is not the case at all, they [the government] think that every move by the opposition is a threat,” the scion of the Bhutto dynasty responded to a query in an exclusive interview on the Express News show ‘Centre Stage with Rehman Azhar’.
Bilawal was referring to his recent train march from Karachi to Larkana.
“If we do go ahead with it [a long march], then the government will realise our party’s true strength and support,” he said.
With an edge of just six votes, he added, the Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government is walking on thin ice.
Bilawal also took a broadside at those who criticised him for calling for a clampdown on proscribed outfits.
“Anyone who calls for action against banned groups is conveniently deemed to be a threat to the state,” he remarked.
He added that comparing his statement on the issue to New Delhi’s narrative was “childish”.
“My mother [Benazir Bhutto] and my grandfather [Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto] were also deemed to be anti-state, but looking back it is clear as to see who the real patriots were,” he maintained.
When asked if this was the right time to bring up the matter of proscribed groups, Bilawal said: “If not now, then when? It’s not just today, I have always had the same stance on this issue.”
The PPP chairman said the ongoing cases against his party’s leadership were nothing more than politics of vendetta with the National Accountability Bureau being used as an instrument by the government.
He also questioned the slow pace of investigation, adding that “it is unlawful for cases to be shifted from Karachi to Rawalpindi”.
“I respect the judiciary but these proceedings have become controversial. The highest office-bearer of this judiciary said that Bilawal is innocent, but his words were not taken into consideration,” he said, referring to the former chief justice of Pakistan’s remarks in the Supreme Court.
Bilawal said that a conspiracy was being hatched against the 18th Amendment, which was passed by the National Assembly in 2010, removing the power of the president to dissolve the parliament unilaterally.
Government spokespersons, he added, had openly talked about changing the amendment. “It is this mindset that is bent on creating a one unit system in this country,” he maintained.
However, the PPP chairman vowed that his party would defend the 18th amendment at any cost.
He also criticised the federal government for not releasing Rs120 billion to the Sindh government. “Three of Sindh’s hospitals have been snatched [by the federal government]. The rights of the province are being trampled upon by the centre and under these circumstances any changes to the 18th Amendment will be detrimental to the country’s unity,” he said.
Bilawal also expressed his displeasure over the government’s handling of foreign policy.
“Whenever a ‘selected government’ is placed in power, the foreign policy of the country suffers and becomes ineffective,” he claimed.
“Unfortunately, the situation was no better when the previous government was in power as it had not appointed a foreign minister. It has always been during the PPP’s tenures that our foreign policy has achieved its biggest milestones,” he added.
The PPP chairman clarified that his party did not want a confrontation with state institutions.
He added that it was only democracy that would prevail in the end. “We have to work together. But we should know that in the end it is only democracy that works and institutions will have to work within their limits,” he remarked.