Centre's Karachi move to shake federation, warns Bilawal

PPP chief claims law minister unveiled plan to 'occupy' Sindh's capital on PM's directives

Z ALI September 12, 2019
PPP chairman Bilawal addresses a news conference. SCREEN GRAB

HYDERABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has warned that any move by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led federal government to take administrative control of Karachi may jeopardise the federation.

"The Center's plan of taking over Karachi is a conspiracy to dent the federation. The PPP will stand as a bulwark against these powers who have been scheming against the country," Bilawal said, speaking to media at Hyderabad Press Club on Thursday.

"You [Centre] should consider why Bangladesh was created. If you keep acting with similar cruelty and the parties like the PPP do not stand [in the way] than tomorrow Sindhudesh, Seraikidesh and Pashtundesh can also come into being," he cautioned.

Federal Law and Justice Minister Farogh Naseem on Wednesday hinted at the government's possible plan to make the country's economic hub a separate administrative unit and said one option available to the federal government was to invoke Article 149(4).

"Through Article 149(4) the Centre can request the provincial government to hand over administrative control of Karachi to the former," the minister had said, warning the PPP led Sindh government that the Centre would move the Supreme Court in case the proposal was opposed.

This revelation triggered a backlash from most of the Sindh based political parties that rejected the proposition, likening it with the previous attempts to separate the metropolis from the province.

Bilawal said Farogh Naseem unveiled the plan to 'occupy' Karachi on the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan.  "What joke is this? On one hand you are trying to make a narrative against [Indian premier Narendra] Modi that he has unconstitutionally occupied Kashmir and on the other hand you are trying to occupy Karachi," he said.

He wondered how people of Pakistan can expect that Imran Khan will protect the human rights in Kashmir when he is violating the same rights in Pakistan. "How can the PM protect the political prisoners in Kashmir when he has turned the political leaders in Pakistan into prisoners?"

The PPP chairman said a similar approach prevailed in Islamabad when Bangladesh, whose people he said were not less patriotic than other Pakistanis, separated from the country.

Asserting that the Center's plan of taking over Karachi is a conspiracy to dent the federation, he said the PPP will stand as a bulwark against these powers who have been scheming against the country.

"You ought to think will the federation remain safe if you keep weakening the PPP and the other democratic forces; if you unleash cruelty, snatch economic and human rights of the people and after that you try to occupy their city and their land?"

He referred to the sense of deprivations in smaller provinces and pointed to the ethnic diversity in the country which required an Islamic democratic system to keep Pakistan united.

"I also want to send a message to the selectors of the incumbent government that they should take care of the people and that cruelty can be tolerated only to a certain level."

Bilawal said this is neither the first nor the last attempt for dividing Sindh, adding that making Karachi a separate administrative unit was the election manifesto of the ruling PTI and its allies –  Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM-P) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) – in 2018 election.

He asked the PPP's dissident Zulfiqar Mirza, without taking his name, that he should tell his wife, Federal Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza, to resign and also asked the GDA to withdraw its support to the PTI's government in the center.

He also asked MQM-P to clarify its position over enforcement of Article 149 and to resign from the coalition government. He demanded that leadership of all other political parties clarify their stance over the issue.

"Are you with these selected undemocratic forces which aren't only committing economic murder of the people and snatching their rights and but they are sabotaging the federation?"

In-house change

Bilawal vowed that the PPP along with the other opposition parties will send PM Imran Khan and his government packing. He preferred an in house change instead of the early elections to replace the incumbent set up.  "An in-house change is a practical option, a doable option. The opposition parties should think about it and should emphasize on this point."

He contended that holding the mid-term or early elections without carrying out the electoral reforms to shut the door for the rigging will end up installing another selected government. "Making the demand for a new election is easier but holding the election and stopping the selection is difficult."

Kashmir crisis

He said the PTI government's policy regarding India and Kashmir is flawed since beginning, claiming that the blunders started with the PM publicly expressing support for Modi's second tenure. "They should have assessed that Modi wasn't Manmohan Singh or [Atal Bihari] Vajpayee. He was butcher of Gujarat."

He blamed the government for the growing recognition of Modi among the other Muslim countries. He argued that the government should have rejected Modi from the beginning, saying the world would not have accepted a religious extremist carrying the label of bloodshed as the PM of Pakistan.


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