HYDERABAD: Manifesting an apparent split among the opposition parties, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has said that his party will not participate in JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman-led long march and sit-in in Islamabad next month.
“We think that Maulana sahib has taken this initiative on his own [without consulting other parties of the joint opposition] and went on to make an announcement,” he said while speaking to the media in Thana Bula Khan in Jamshoro district on Wednesday.
“The PPP has a clear and consistent policy regarding the dharna politics in Islamabad. We were in the opposition during sit-ins of Tahirul Qadri, Imran Khan or Tehreek-e-Labbaik and decided against participating in any of them.”
Rehman, head of his own faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), will lead a long march to Islamabad in October for a sit-in against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, seeking its early ouster from the power.
However, two main parties of the joint opposition – PPP and PML-N – have decided to adopt a calm political strategy for the time being.
Sources in the opposition camp cited different reasons behind the opposition’s failure in taking out a protest movement against the PTI government. These include the political situation arising out of the arrest of the PML-N and the PPP leaders in corruption cases, lack of communication between the central leaders of the opposition parties and lack of consensus among the opposition parties on JUI-F’s resolve to put Islamabad under lockdown.
Although the PPP’s chairman did not mince words clarifying his party’s dissociation from JUI-F led sit-in in today’s media interaction, he expressed “moral and political support” for Rehman.
“Yet, strategically we don’t see eye to eye,” he underscored. Bilawal said while Rehman will be leading a sit-in in Islamabad, he will carry out a country-wide public contact campaign against the Imran Khan government.
“Our narration and stance will be the same that this puppet and incapable prime minister, who has been imposed on our country, who has destroyed the economy and weakened Pakistan’s positions on Kashmir and national security, will have to go home.”
Bilawal also criticised the incumbent government over its Kashmir policy, claiming that the prime minister did not try to become the voice of innocent Kashmiris. “He [Imran] takes U-turn on every announcement… neither we nor any other Pakistani can tolerate the government’s incompetence on Kashmir dispute.”
Bilawal also took exception to a reported statement of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in which he referred to Occupied Jammu and Kashmir as a state or province of India.
“Zulfikar Ali Bhutto [former PM and chairman of PPP] had said he couldn’t afford to make a mistake over the Kashmir issue even in his sleep. But now we are watching that these incompetent selected representatives are making one mistake after the other.”
India has turned Occupied Jammu and Kashmir into a prison, said the PPP chairman while terming the Narendra Modi government’s decision of abrogating Article 370 an ‘unprecedented attack’ on Kashmiris.
The PPP chairman said that his party had always stood against dictators, adding that the government of Prime Minister Imran, with its ‘undemocratic attitude’, did not have what it takes to handle the country’s economics.
Commenting on the upcoming visit of PM Imran to Karachi, Bilawal said he was unsure about the visit, keeping in view the history of U-turns taken by him. He blamed Imran and the PTI leaders for being pretentious when it comes to problems confronted by the citizens of Karachi. He recalled that during the PTI’s cleanliness campaign following July 29 torrential cloudburst, the solid waste collected from one residential locality of Karachi was thrown in another locality.
Bilawal said the Sindh government was dependent on the local government institutions for the solid waste management. He rejected the formation of ‘Karachi Committee’ by the federal government, terming it a continuity of the conspiracies of the political parties that wanted to separate the metropolis from Sindh.
He complained that on one hand the center keeps Sindh deprived of its resources and due share in NFC awards and on other, the provincial government is criticised for failing to deliver in the domains of health and education. “Sindh is the only province where people can get free cardiac treatment… it should be given its constitutional rights and resources so that the provincial government can take care of its people,” he demanded.