Zardari threatens Imran's govt with long march

PPP co-chairman addresses party workers at Zulfikar Bhutto's 40th death anniversary

Z Ali April 04, 2019
PPP co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari addressing the party rally. SCREENGRAB

HYDERABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has threatened leading a march on Islamabad to overthrow what he described as a 'selected' government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

"Let's go to Islamabad to expel them [PTI government]," said Zardari while addressing an event held to commemorate the 40th death anniversary of party founder and former prime minister Zufikar Ali Bhutto in Larkana on Thursday.

The public meeting took place in the ground of Bhutto's mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, former Sindh CM Qaim Ali Shah, Aitzaz Ahsan and other PPP leaders also spoke on the occasion and paid tribute to Bhutto.

"The time has come to send them home. There is no other way," said Zardari, as thousands of PPP supporters took to chants and whistles to express their support.

Both Zardari and Bilawal, besides other leaders, lamented that the alleged discrimination of the establishment against their party was continuing since the 1970s when the PPP came to power for the first time.

Zardari warned that if Prime Minister Imran Khan was allowed to remain in power, the country would go 100 years back.

"He [Imran] has already taken Pakistan 50 years back," said Zardari, blaming Imran for "destroying" the country through inflation, currency devaluation, redundancy, increased taxes and utility bills and for being callous when it came to planning for the poor working class.

He vowed to expel the PTI government from power, labelling the struggle as "jihad" to save the country.

Zardari said the PPP's sit-in in Islamabad would be nothing like the one PTI staged.

"We will spend days and nights there ... not like Imran who came to the container during the day and went back home at night."

However, Zardari stopped short of announcing the date for the march, advising party supporters to practice patience until he gave the call.

On PTI's intent to roll back the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the PPP co-chairman said, "Until recently, the federal ministers were seen claiming that there is no such plan. But now the PM says he doesn't have the money."

PM Imran had stated that during his speech in Ghotki, Sindh last week.

Imran had said that after the 18th Amendment the centre was left bankrupt because after paying around Rs2,000 billion in loans, Rs2,500 billion to provinces and Rs1,700 billion for the defence, the federal budget started with Rs700 billion deficit.

Addressing the event, the PPP chairman said, "We won't let them terminate Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's constitution or make the country a one-unit system again. Zulfikar Bhutto had said that he would smash the one-unit system with his kick. And I am warning you today not to tamper with the 18th Amendment or impose the one unit otherwise I will smash your government with a kick."

Bilawal, who blamed Imran and his cabinet ministers for being enemies of Bhutto given constitution, said, "The PPP will stand as a bulwark to protect the Constitution."

He accused Imran of being oblivious to the fact that stronger provinces make the federation strong.

"You will meet the fate of dictators if you attempted to meddle with the Constitution."

He said that the government which came with the slogan of "change" wanted to deny people their democratic rights.

Bilawal took exception to Imran's statement that PTI's electoral victory in Sindh was not quintessential for him to form a government at the Centre as the seats won from Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were enough.

"You don't need Sindh! Who are you to say so! Sindh doesn't need you," said Bilawal.

In his over 40-minute-long speech, the PPP chairman mostly reiterated the charges against the PTI government.

Referring to Rs120 billion not released for Sindh by the Centre under the National Finance Commission Award, Bilawal accused Imran of trying to divert the province's funds to Islamabad.

Praising Bhutto for his contributions for the development of Pakistan, strengthening democracy and country's defence, Bilawal deplored that his grandfather had yet to get justice for his alleged "judicial murder".

He questioned, "Why do the scales of justice lose their balance when it comes to the PPP? Why the lady of justice falls asleep on our cases?"

The PPP chairman said the fake accounts case was being heard in Karachi until the apex court took up the matter for being slow-paced.

"And even if we accept the slow progress for the sake of argument, are not hundreds of thousands of other cases making similar progress. What about the cases concerning Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Akbar Bugti, May 12, Asghar Khan, Pervez Musharraf's treason and missing persons. Is delay in these cases not a violation of human rights as well?"

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